Frequently Asked Questions
What is your financial planning process?
The Advice Only™ process features our Singular Service Model™ or SSM. Our process is specifically designed to separate and compartmentalize financial advice from any form of compensation other than an invoice. It has been identified by our clients as a distinct qualitative preference when maximizing the planning experience. The model’s existence, among other variables, makes Advice Only™ unique in the financial services industry.
What is the Advice Only™ planning experience?
We explain our planning experience as a "module" that you can enter under a fiduciary capacity whenever you prefer to receive objective advice (vs. advice potentially mixed with other forms of compensation. i.e. fee-only, fee-for-service, fee-based, etc.)
What are your fees?
Our methodology states that the completion of all financial courses and financial plans should be totally isolated from any form of advisor compensation which might be earned from solicitation or financial plan implementation. In other words, our planning services are consciously paid by the client, almost always by personal check and never from an account held by the advisor. This process is precisely the way one pays their CPA or attorney or simply an invoice for the services rendered. Please book a free 10-min call or ideally attend a local workshop for more information.
During the planning development stage, there are 2 ways we can work together:
- An Advice Only Initial Consultation
- An Advice Only Financial Plan
Learn more on our prices page. Should you decide to move forward, any money paid for an initial consultation will apply towards an Advice Only™ Financial Plan.
When we say just advice, we mean just advice. We follow our Advice Only methodology which states that all financial planning meetings are to be done strictly in a fiduciary capacity and under an advisory agreement. No discussion of any new products is ever sold, suggested or referred out during the totality of the financial planning process.
Once a plan is just right, we encourage clients (if appropriate) to work with any financial professional that will best fulfill their newly defined financial strategy. Should you choose to continue working with us we offer every option available, including continuing to only work under the Advice Only™ method. For more information about or firm, please read our ADV.
When can "free" be a bad thing?
Unfortunately, free can be misused. Anyone can give away incompetent advice for free and likely not be held accountable - including licensed professionals. When financial advice is paid for, and provided by an acting fiduciary, there is legal obligation to provide that advice in the client’s best interest. Furthermore, there should be a signed advisory agreement stating such. In general, "free" is at best education or only "suitable". At worst its manipulative and has no accountability. Generally, a client should consider advice is in a fiduciary capacity when it is under an advisory agreement.
What is a "solicitor" meeting?
A client may choose to consider implementation options with the advisor, but only after a financial plan has been completed. A "solicitor" meeting must be totally isolated (as in a separate meeting) from our Advice Only™ planning process. A solicitor meeting is not paid by invoice, is not under an advisory agreement, and generally will fall under the “suitability” standard. In theory, anything that could be labeled or construed as a “product” should be discussed in a separate solicitor's meeting. If the advisor receives compensation through implementation, even referrals to qualified professionals, it must be in a solicitor's meeting.
How did your book come about?
Advice Only is a methodology requested from clients. Simply listening to what clients wanted and attempting to offer a clearer, less sales-centric and more advice-centric approach to retirement planning. Advice Only was developed after 9 years of teaching retirement courses primarily through the College of Marin.
What is "education" and what is "advice"?
It is very important that students understand the difference between education and advice. When words such as "Fiduciary" are freely proliferated, it communicates that a financial professional provides sound advice. It is also true that in general financial professionals must been given ample time to internalize a client’s financial situation before speaking effectively to it. To provide competent advice which is in your best interest, it is logical that an advisor need to have a some of your pertinent financial details. Educational materials (including our book) can never be a replacement for sound financial advice. Advice provided by a licensed and acting fiduciary and after your personal financial details have been provided. Those kinds of financial meetings are typically paid, and generally under an advisory agreement.
Do you offer a free consultation?
We do not offer a free consultation. However, our book "Advice Only" and our local planning workshops should give you an excellent idea of how we work and if its a right fit. Free 10-min phone calls are available as well.
Where are you located?
We have offices in Walnut Creek, San Francisco, Corte Madera, San Mateo and San Jose.
How can I learn more about your planning approach?
Do you hold insurance licenses?
No. We do not currently hold any insurance licenses. It’s not because we think insurance is bad, it’s because we think that the way traditional life insurance company’s pay advisors needs to change. Currently virtually all commissions are paid up front to the advisor and there is then is no incentive for financial professionals to service the account.
What is AdviceOnly.org
AdviceOnly.org will be our network offerings division of our business. We offer direct to consumer course and advisor matching based on Advice Only advisors currently in your metropolitan area. No fancy algorithm, no middlemen, no personally invasive financial questions designed to qualify your financial situation. Just referrals to qualified Advice Only™ Advisors.
Is your book for me?
Our book is considered a "retirement planning" book. So, if you are younger than 50 years old, and are looking for a planning book that speaks directly to you, this book may feel like more than you actually need. Or it is possibly not specific enough for your questions in regards to investments. However, everyone, no matter your age, can benefit from reading this book. It will provide insight into what will be needed for a successful retirement.
Do you work remotely with clients out of the area?
Sometimes. Please schedule a 15-min phone consultation on the bottom of the home page so we can determine if it makes sense to work remotely.
Have a question or comment?
Please email is if you have a question, comment, suggestion or concern. We'll do our best to get back to you within 48 hours.
How are Advice Only™ advisors different?
The Advice Only™ methodology states that financial education and the complete development of a financial plan should be totally compartmentalized from all new forms of solicitation. A solicitation is considered any potential form of compensation other than through an invoice. It is the fundamental belief by some clients that a financial plan will only ever feel complete if -and only if- it is developed in this way. Download our book preview for more information.
How are you different from Fee-Only (or Fee-for-Service)?
Fee-Only advisors are not required to separate and isolate advice from asset-based compensation (AUM or AUA). As a result, Fee-Only compensation is fundamentally tied to consequential decision making. We believe this leaves the door open for abuse and diminishes the benefits that come with truely objective advice. When it comes to money, compensation should not be ambiguous. The Advice Only methodology empowers the client to choose the best way to compensate for the advice the receive, apart from any advisor, company or algorithm. Learn more about our process by downloading our free book preview.
How do you responsibly collect and use data?
No “prequalifying” potential clients for services based on their assets
No personally invasive algorithm qualifying questions to answer
I'm a client, how do I log in to my account?
Please login below (or request access by emailing your advisor).
What is your "investment philosophy"?
We describe our investment philosophy as T.F.Y (Think For Yourself). It's not to say that we wouldn't have a specific suggestion for your situation, we just believe that clients should be making their own decisions based on ALL variables and a comprehensive education.
Why? Because it’s your money - not ours. However, when the time is right (and if you ask) we'll offer our take. The idea is to ALWAYS maximize objectivity when completing financial plans.
Do you consider your process "unbiased"?
It is very difficult to eliminate bias and financial planning firms should avoid saying such. However, our unique process was designed to significantly reduce and mitigate bias when completing financial plans or when a client prefers just objective advice. The Advice Only Methodology offers our Singular Service Model (SSM) which is a multistage financial planning process specifically designed to reduce and mitigate bias. Furthermore, our Advice Only Planning Module will assure you that throughout the planning process no outside influences will interrupt the sanctity of your plan's development. It is a distinct qualitative process our clients have identified and prefer when making consequential financial decisions. In short, we describe our design as a “bias filter” designed to maximize objectivity when developing a financial plan.
Is your book the best resource for de-conflicted advice?
As much as we'd like to say so, no. We were inspired by many, but right now our favorite resouce is the Feb 2015 Presidental report: