Frequently Asked Questions

“It’s always wise to raise questions about the most obvious and simple assumptions.”

– C. West Churchman

 

 

We invite you to explore a little deeper
with the sections below.

Q: Can fee-only advisors and financial planning actually save me money?

A: Yes. Most investors pay more for their investments, often unknowingly, than they would pay using a fee-only advisor.

Fee-only financial planning is a totally transparent expense. Clients of a fee-only financial planner know exactly how much they are paying for the services being rendered.

Often, people invest into mutual funds with sales fees. Whether those fees are up-front, deferred, or annual, they may be more costly than the cost of retaining a fee-only advisor.

Q: What if I am not local?

A: As you can imagine, many of our clients do not live locally or only live in New Hampshire a few months each year. We often travel to visit our clients, wherever they are. We also arrange for telephone conferences and offer virtual meetings (GoToMeeting) that help bridge the gap between in-person meetings.

Q: Do my investments need to be with a particular company, custodian, or broker?

A: No. We generally recommend Schwab as a custodian for your investments, but you can have your investments anywhere. That is flexibility.

Q: What is your investment process?

A: Our investment approach rests on several foundations. Foremost in our minds is that the best investment strategy begins and ends with you, your purposes. In between, we do not guess. Instead, we use a scientific approach based on empirical evidence, affirmed by Nobel laureates, to understand how markets work and how we can use that information to your advantage. But because our approach begins and ends with you, no two portfolios are the same. Secondly, we believe that trust, truth, and cost all go together. We ensure transparency and frugal implementation by using low cost indexes. This is a must for all fiduciaries. Thirdly, staying power is essential to not only survive recessions, but to benefit from them. We ensure that clients have more than enough safe assets to meet their needs in the near term. Fourthly, through the use of value investing and emphasizing smaller publicly traded companies, you are able to have a higher return. Lastly, patience is rewarded. Taken together, this is a process that has been tested and has proven successful.

Q: Do you have any thoughts on debt?

A: How people manage their debt is often far more important than how they invest their money. The burden of debt can turn quickly against someone destroying wealth. Used properly, debt can enhance your wealth and your life.

Q: How are you personally invested?

A: All employees of Grove Street Fiduciary are invested using the same philosophy and securities as that of our clients. We have seen the success of our clients and believe in what we do. We will not invest differently than we recommend to others.

Q: Why fee only?

A: Being able to provide conflict free advice was critical to us. We need to work for clients the way an attorney would, without any conflicts.

Q: What are your fees?

A: We have no affiliation with any brokerage firms, mutual fund companies, or money managers. We do not receive commissions. We are compensated by clients after our services are provided. Your initial visit with us is complimentary. Our fees are: 1.0% annual fee on accounts up to $3 million ($12,000 minimum fee) and 0.8% annual fee on accounts $3 million and above. Clients have found that through tax savings, risk reduction, improved portfolio performance, and real wealth planning, we provide a value that exceeds the cost. Hourly consultations are $300 per hour.

Q: What is tax planning?

A: Tax planning is an ongoing process that considers your entire financial picture and how to best take advantage of tax laws to improve your financial situation. At Grove Street Fiduciary we are able to help you avoid costly tax mistakes and benefit from available tax breaks.

Q: What about a “Robo Advisor”, isn’t that cheaper?

A: We love to incorporate technology to support our work and help our clients. However, we are not considered a Robo advisor because we apply a lot of human interaction and thinking to our recommendations. In other words, we are a technology enabled advisor, but we do not outsource our recommendations to a computer model. We are a "planning led" advisory firm. This means that our investment recommendations are preceded by our planning: investment and financial planning. We believe this is critical to finding the best investment solutions.

The changing landscape around technology has created a strong interest in automated investment management, “Robo Advisors”. From a business perspective, this is a very efficient and profitable way to serve investors on a massive scale. Robo advisors are cheaper. And you get what you pay for. We have found that as clients grow in net worth and complexity, their investments cannot be properly handled by computer or algorithm. There is simply too much at stake and too many requirements to be addressed. At the heart of all good advice is the human relationship where real understanding and communication take place. One example is behavioral coaching that can add tremendous value particularly in times of fear and greed. Computers can manage some numbers, but they will never replace the value created in an advisor/client relationship where numbers are only a part of the worth.

Q: What is “Risk Math”?

A: “Risk Math” is simple math that can help people understand why risk needs to be managed in their investments. A 50% drop in your portfolio – like some experienced in 2008 – requires a 100% increase to get back to where you started. That takes years. Even smaller drops require wonderful returns to recover. For example, a 10% loss needs an 11.5% gain. A 15% loss needs 18%. A 25% fall means the portfolio has to rise by a third. This is simple arithmetic that anyone can do, but it is not always obvious to most investors. This also explains why investors may try to invest aggressively to make up for loss, only to lose more than they can afford.

Q: What are the 5 D’s?

A: The 5 D’s are : death, divorce, disaster, disability and debt. We work with families to plan for the critical times and issues to ensure success.

Q: Do you focus only on investments?

A: No! This is where most prospective clients get a surprise. We are not like the others. We only address your investments after focusing on more critical aspects like cash flow, taxes, estate planning, credit protection, and risk transfer strategies. The foundations of your financial house need to be addressed before we have the investment discussion.

Q: Do you ever advise or recommend real estate?

A: Yes! We often advise on real estate matters, your home, your rental real estate, your vacation condo.

Q: Do you prepare taxes?

A: No. Although we do not do tax preparation, next to your CPA we are often your best tax advisor because we do tax planning all year! We expect to be in close communication with you and your tax preparer as often as needed to ensure you pay the lowest taxes possible.

Q: Will you advise against taking money from my investments, because it will reduce your fees?

A: No! We are fiduciaries and we are bound to operate in your best interest, not our own. Our recommendations must consider your whole financial life: gifting, real estate investments, business interest, and your dream vacation.

Q: Do you recommend individual stocks or do you sell only mutual funds?

A: First, we do not SELL any products. Second, we handle all types of publicly traded investments, stocks, bonds, ETF’s, mutual funds, everything.

Q: Any tips for my kids, the Gen X and Gen Y?

A: Yes. Please tell them to avoid the following mistakes, before time gets away from them. 1) Get professional help early. Most major financial decisions happen before we turn 40. 2) Save! Lack of savings for retirement is a threat made even worse if you consider the possibility that Social Security might not be available in its current state for their retirement. The tendency is for this group is to save for their children’s college rather than their own retirement. There is no single financial gift a parent can give to a child that matters more than being financially sound in retirement. A corollary principle is they must invest in themselves and their human capital. 3) Take full advantage of employer match. Studies suggest that about one-third of workers do not contribute enough to get the full match. 4) Do not save just in the 401(k). Younger people mistakenly save only in their retirement accounts. It is also important to save using many different types of accounts like after-tax brokerage accounts. This is another form of diversification. Arriving at retirement with only tax-deferred savings provides little flexibility for managing taxes during retirement. 5) Invest in stocks. Younger people seem to avoid stock market risk, because they do not understand the impact this has through time.