Frequently Asked Questions
Do you make money from recommending financial products, like insurance or mutual funds?
No! That's what makes a fee-only advisor different. RVPF only gets paid directly by clients with no commissions of any kind. Traditional investment advice is offered "for free" because the focus is really on selling particular investments that carry a load, or commission, for the individual offering the advice.
Why does fee-only matter?
R&V Personal Finance, LLC believes in the old adage of "follow the money" and when financial representatives are paid on commission, their incentives and loyalties can be swayed. For example, when evaluating what to do with a 401(k) or 403(b) account from a former employer, many investors are traditionally advised to rollover to an IRA. While this may be the best choice, it's all too often because of a commission paid to the agent. Alternately, on an hourly basis, RVPF will review the options, present the opportunities and assist with implementing a strategy. The outcomes could be:
- leave the account alone
- transfer to a new employer's plan, or
- roll to an IRA (with or without a Roth conversion) on an investment platform of the investor's choice or with the assistance of RVPF asset management.
Where do your clients live?
RVPF initially only worked virtually with women in medicine or veterans. However, after seeing a need for fee-only fiduciary financial planning in the Decorah and surrounding areas, local clients from all walks of life are welcome.
Do you offer one-time advice?
Absolutely. Some people have both the interest and the time to manage their own financial plan. However, they often find value in meeting with a fee-only planner as a kind of second opinion or for additional education in the areas that they may have less skill, such as how to marry their investments with tax planning.
I don't have a lot of money. Can you still help me?
This is one of the most common hurdles to working with a financial advisor. Betsy has more 15 years of experience in financial education, counseling and planning. Budgeting and debt counseling is available at a reduced hourly rate. Recommended books available at most public libraries are The Millionaire Next Door (any edition) and The Total Money Makeover. The vast majority of financial advisors will only work with households who have already accumulated wealth, whereas Betsy is willing to walk with anyone who sincerely desires to make a more secure financial future for themselves and their family.
My life is busy and I don't want to manage my financial plan. What does an on-going financial planning relationship look like?
Professionals today are busy. Like really, really busy. It's well documented that there are "greedy professions" and medicine is one of them. RVPF was formed to help professionals and their families enjoy life more by taking one of the most significant stressors off their plate - financial management. Having an on-going relationship with a retainer-based planner means that there is someone keeping tabs on thing such as evaluating employee benefits during open season (which is always when families are gearing up for winter holidays), tracking the household savings goals or keeping an eye on the mortgage markets to see when it's a good time to refinance.
What does the financial planning process include?
The process varies based on whether the service is one-time or subscription. Generally the relationship begins with a "Let's Get Acquainted" conversation to determine if we're a good mutual fit from a needs and values perspective. I once had a client state that she wants her financial advisor to be "someone I actually want to have coffee with." (I'm grateful to have enjoyed having coffee with her several times!) As an educator at heart, it's my goal to give prospective clients the resources to find the best advisor for them with no sales pressure. If a prospective client would like to move ahead with RVPF, there is some onboarding paperwork, sharing of financial information, and additional meetings to develop a plan reflective of the client's goals, priorities and unique circumstances.
Alternately, a client may have a time-sensitive need such as a quick career change, deployment or change in marital/family status. In these cases, we may be able to expedite the project.
Do you manage investments?
Investment management is just one part of implementing a financial plan. Having an RVPF advisor on subscription includes investment advice on all accounts as part of the regular fee. Some clients choose to outsource the day-to-day investment management to RVPF as part of a fee off-set program, which includes coordination of contributions to keep up with applicable IRS limits, account rebalancing, determination of asset location, implementation of Roth conversions and tax management. There is no minimum level of investable assets. Some clients start out with RVPF with a highly negative net worth often due to student loans.
Why is there a reduction in certain financial planning fees when using RVPF asset management?
Highly effective asset management is not a small or simple task. RVPF is committed to partnering with DIY investors. However, investment coaching and education is a time-intensive task so the fee off-set is designed to provide parity between the two styles of investment management.
How does RVPF approach charitable giving?
Betsy recognizes that each person has their own values about money, however, she believes that a healthy relationship with money includes looking at life through a lens of abundance. Nearly all clients of RVPF are inclined to be charitable to causes close to their heart and Betsy both supports and actively encourages a commitment to generous giving.
What is your approach to investment management?
Betsy manages investments based on three principles. 1) Reduce administrative expenses through high-quality and low cost funds. 2) Do not attempt to "beat the market" through individual stock picking, market timing (buying and selling in response to market news or predictions), or other complex investing strategies. 3) Be tax aware. RVPF stays abreast of tax law and individual circumstances to engage in household level tax minimization strategies.