New Client Services
New clients may choose from the Basic Review, the Portfolio Review, or the Full Review. To learn more about each of these services, please visit Services & Fees. Many clients choose to start with the Basic Review, and then upgrade if needed.
What to Expect
The first meeting is a working meeting; it is informal and the dress is casual. I tell people, bring your wheelbarrow full of stuff (financial information) and I will answer your questions. Not every meeting is the same, but typically we will start with paperwork, which consists of the Form ADV and my contract. Next we will talk about why you came and where you are in life. More importantly, we will discuss what you hope to accomplish in the future. After this the direction is dependent on your questions and needs. Past experience tells me many clients are looking for spending/retirement guidance and a review of their portfolio.
Please click HERE to view our 2017 Form ADV Part II
Materials to Bring
Please click here to download our Checklist in Adobe Acrobat format.
After the Meeting
At the end of the meeting you may:
- Decide to do nothing. Often clients' questions are completely answered. This type of client decides when they would like the next meeting. This may be in 3 months or in 3 years. These future meetings are typically billed at the current hourly rate.
- Decide you want a written report. These clients generally move to the Full Review service.
- Decide you need a detailed analysis of your portfolio. These clients generally are looking for more specific portfolio and investment information. This can be answered by an hourly charge or by upgrading your service.
- Sign up for one of the ongoing services.
Scheduling a Meeting
You may schedule a meeting at one of our three office locations:
- Barre: 51 Church Street, Barre Granite Association, Barre VT
- So. Burlington: 76 Ethan Allen Drive, Suite #4, South Burlington, VT
- St. Johnsbury: 770 Railroad Street, St. Johnsbury, VT
Contact Jamie today or use the links below to schedule an appointment!
- Phone: (800) 360-0662
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jump directly to the topic most relevant to you: Spending Retirement Investments Divorce
CLIENT PROFILE: Frugal Living
Background: I was visited by a client who had average to below-average pay, money saved and money to invest... The client’s goal in life is to live frugally, be socially sustainable and enjoy the environment we live in. In my 13 years helping clients, I had never encountered a lifestyle with as minimal spending as this client achieved. Some of the techniques the client used include: Renting, with all utilities included, even cable and internet. (Note that home ownership can also be an affordable option.) Living close enough to work that walking is convenient. Taking advantage of community gardening. Enjoying nature both as a passion and a way to avoid costlier hobbies and entertainment sources. None of the techniques listed above are unusual in themselves, but this client has strung a number of frugal living habits together. As a result, this client was able to save 40% of the money this client earned.
The Take Away: If you think you cannot cut spending, you can. However, significant reductions in spending may only be achieved with significant changes in attitude, beliefs and lifestyle. For this person it is a way of life, for most of us, major spending cuts are painful. I think it is important for us to ask ourselves how unthinkable it really is. We are a consuming nation – can we continue to be?
CLIENT PROFILE: Younger Couple
Background: A younger couple had recently received a significant increase in salary. This couple wanted to know what they should do differently, especially to prepare for their retirement years... My spending analysis showed that they needed to save more to achieve their goals. Though the monthly savings target was higher than they were comfortable with, it was achievable.
The Take Away: It was great this couple called before they started to spend the salary increase. Often when I recommend saving more for retirement, spending must be reduced. In this couple’s case, they did not have to make any spending cuts.
CLIENT PROFILE: Spending all we Have
Background: Joe and Sally had three small children and where concerned about their finances. They had both short-term goals (buy a house, repay credit card debt and save) and long-term goals (college and retirement). Joe and Sally had been spending more than they were earning (aren’t credit cards wonderful!) and were concerned about their future.
The Take Away: In cases like this, it is important to keep the following in mind: How much you are spending could be an issue if you are to achieve your goals. Rarely, does it make sense to spend more than you earn. If you have credit card debt that is increasing each year, you are spending too much. Reducing credit card debt should be a priority. It is of the utmost importance that you do not incur additional credit card debt. I spoke with this client about a year later and they thanked me for getting them back on track and changing their lives.
CLIENT PROFILE: Retiring Soon
Background: Clients who call for an appointment often have two concerns; whether they have enough money (retirement planning and spending projections) and whether their portfolio is invested properly. Though each client and each meeting are different, similar issues are often addressed. Jack called and discussed his plans to retire in the next couple of years. He wanted to know if his portfolio was sufficient to support his lifestyle in retirement. There are many variables and assumptions that are used in developing a retirement projection, but the most important client variable is the annual spending. It is difficult to know what level of spending will be required in retirement. I have had retired clients tell me they spend more now that they are retired then they did before retirement. In Jack’s case, the retirement projections indicated a spending level that was significantly less than Jack had hoped.
The Take Away: There are many options when spending cannot be supported, including, but not limited to: working longer, working part-time, spending less, downsizing the house, taking out a reverse mortgage or some combination of strategies. A planner often deals with aligning a client’s retirement expectations with the financial reality. Since Jack was two years away from retiring, there was still some time to “align” his retirement thinking with the reality of the financial projections. However, I know Jack left the meeting disappointed and discouraged. I was confident that Jack will be fine in the long run, but had he called 5 or 10 years earlier, his current dreams and goals may have been much closer to reality. At least he was not retiring the next month!
CLIENT PROFILE: “Can I do it?”
Background: Jim was 55, divorced and living in an apartment. He was concerned about having enough for retirement. Jim signed up for my Basic Review Service. The projections indicated a couple of things to Jim. First, he could actually increase his current annual spending and still be set for retirement. Second, he dreamed of owning a home again, but was doubtful he could afford one. The analysis showed him that he could, in fact, own a home and still have a comfortable retirement.
The Take Away: If Jim had not had his finances reviewed, he may not have been able to achieve his goals even though he actually had the money to do so. It is important to understand your finances and the limits associated with them – particularly as you look ahead towards retirement and continuing to reach your life goals. More often than you think, clients have a stronger financial position than they realize.
CLIENT PROFILE: College Background: John, a long term client, wanted to do something for his grandchild’s education. John came to me to ask what I thought was the best investment.
The Take Away: There are many ways to save for a grandchild’s education. In this case, I recommended the 529 plan. A 529 plan is an educational savings plan. Its main advantage is that though John gets no tax advantages when he adds money to the plan, once the money is deposited it grows tax free. Any interest, dividends or capital gains are not taxed provided the money is used for college as stated in the guidelines. The money needs to be used by the time John’s grandchild is age 30, if there is unused money John will pay a 10% penalty and taxes on the unused money. The money can also be used for private school and could be transferred to John’s other grandchildren. Vermont’s 529 plan does currently offer a 10% tax credit with a maximum of $250 per child per donor.
CLIENT PROFILE: Chasing returns
Background: Jeb and Melissa came to the office for an annual review. Both are hard working, successful people. They were there to have their portfolio reviewed. After their visit the previous year, their portfolio was well allocated. They had large, medium and small cap exposure. They had international exposure and a reasonable balance between value and growth. What I discovered was that since their last visit, they had been chasing returns. It seems that every time they received an investment statement, they would move money to the best performing funds. The result; a 12-month return greater than 80%! However, the portfolio was now heavily growth oriented, and it was over 60% in the technology sector. This all before the technology crash in 2000.
The Take Away: There was no doubt that the changes the clients had made during the year were responsible for the 80% plus return. Had they left the portfolio well-diversified, their return, though good, would have been much less. So, what was my advice? Reduce their growth concentration and cut their technology exposure in half. I feel it is very important to maintain a well-diversified portfolio, especially in volatile markets.
CLIENT PROFILE: Buy and hold strategy
Background: After the 2008 market crash, I had many conversations with clients about selling their portfolio. One client stands out in particular. This client called during the summer indicating that he had a feeling our world was headed for something big. After a number of conversations about selling and reasons to maintain a buy and hold strategy, the client took my advice and did not sell. In early March 2009, the client called and said “I’m selling all my stock holdings”. Given that I had prevented a sale in the summer of 2008 and we had covered the dangers of selling, I placed the trades without discussion. Now, after the market has increased significantly, this client is buying back some of his original holdings. This is a classic case of selling low and buying high.
The Take Away: As the Dow dropped to 7,000 and below, clients were rightfully questioning my buy and hold strategy – I was even questioning my buy and hold strategy. But I became stronger in my belief as I began to realize that I did not know how and when to get clients successfully back into the market. For example, I discussed with these clients what their reaction would be if I called them up on the day the Dow dropped to 5,000 (it never did) to reinvest their money. I knew these clients would not let me put their money back into the market. I also knew that once the market increased to 9,000 or so clients would be willing to invest again. Though harder to understand when it was happening, it never makes sense to sell low and buy high, even though many investors feel better when the market is increasing and selling when it dereases.
CLIENT PROFILE: Planning financially for divorce
Background: Mary called for an appointment; she was looking for a divorce planner andI am a certified as a divorce planer. Mary found it helpful to project her financial stability after the divorce. Based on various settlement alternatives, I was able to help Mary decide what option best worked for her. More importantly, Mary was able to focus on her future and together we determined a target spending level.
The Take Away: Working with clients like Mary before the divorce is settled is a much better situation than working with clients who call for advice after the divorce is final. Often, the expectations the client has for the settlement are unrealistic – even with a generous and fair settlement. Often one of the jobs of a financial planner provides is to manage expectations. I still vividly remember a client meeting; the purpose was to discuss how to manage her divorce settlement. It quickly became clear that the client’s expectations of what could actually be accomplished with her settlement were in stark contrast to what she had planned on doing. Today, this meeting remains as my most emotionally distraught meeting.