Looking for a financial planner who works for a flat fee? Here’s some advice on how to do it.
Question: I have done a lot of research to find a fiduciary, but the bottom line is I have yet to find a single advisor, be it individual or company, who will give you advice for a flat fee. They all promise to help you when you talk with them but when it comes down to what I actually want, they re-neg and just want to manage and invest your money for you.
I have two 401K accounts, Roth accounts, taxable accounts, as well as private commercial real estate investments. All I want is someone to take a look at everything I have and holistically provide an overall diversification and investment strategy that I can execute myself. This person would take all their experience and understanding around taxable, non taxable, deferred accounts/assets as well as other investment types to give me the best allocation just like they were all one account. Can you help? (Readers, you can use this tool to get matched with an adviser who might meet your needs here.)
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Answer: You’re certainly right about how difficult it is to find the right financial adviser. As Grace Yung, certified financial planner and wealth adviser at Midtown Financial Group, notes: finding a good financial adviser is like finding a good doctor — not only do you need to click with them on a personal level, but you also need someone who is qualified in their craft, understands what you need and communicates on the same level as you.
In your case, you have an added level of complexity on top of that, as it can also be a challenge to find an adviser who works for an hourly fee, rather than charging, say, a percentage of your assets under management. One place to start is the Garrett Planning Network, says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate. “They can point you in the right direction to find a fiduciary that will charge you an hourly fee for a one-time consultation,” says McBride.
It can also help to understand how financial planning may work. Yung points out that in general, there are several parts to a financial planning engagement: financial planning, implementation and ongoing monitoring. “Many CFP professionals do all of the above but it sounds like you’re only interested in the financial planning portion. There are CFPs who can be hired on an hourly or flat fee basis to do a comprehensive financial plan,” says Yung. Depending on complexity, Yung says these can cost an average of $3,000 to $6,000. “The reason for this is that it can take at minimum 10 hours to create a proper plan. Plans generated on that level are usually initiated with an engagement agreement and should include a baseline snapshot, overall asset allocation, scenarios with general recommendations and action steps with a written summary,” says Yung. As for specific recommendations on investments of strategies, Yung says they’re usually completed separately. (Readers, you can use this tool to get matched with an adviser who might meet your needs here.)
Once you’ve identified a few people who seem like a fit, interview them to make sure they are truly flat fee. “Some firms charge a flat fee like a retainer for ongoing advice and others will offer hourly rates of project-based fees. The financial advice landscape is changing as more advisers with modern approaches to planning enter the field. It’s a slow transition but it’s one that will replace the adviser-centric assets-under-management model of the past and move us to a truly client-centric model of the future,” says Brent Weiss, co-founder of the flat fee financial planning firm Facet Wealth.