Frequently Asked Questions
Guide Financial Planning is fee-only, which means we don’t earn commissions from selling products. We only get paid by our clients, so that is where our loyalty lies. It also allows us to give unbiased advice since we have no other competing interests. As a Registered Investment Advisory with the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, Texas, and California we are legally obligated to act as a fiduciary and are subject to regular audits by the state to ensure that we are acting in our clients’ best interests.
The Certified Financial Planner™ designation is the elite certification among financial professionals, with only 27% of financial advisors holding it. There are four components to becoming a Certified Financial Planner™; education, examination, experience, and ethics. The education component requires 6 graduate-level courses that cover insurance, investments, retirement planning, estate planning, and taxation. After the education is completed, the planner has to sit for a 6-hour exam that only has a 60% pass rate. In addition to the education and examination, three years’ worth of financial planning experience is required before earning the certification and all CFPs® are held to the highest ethical standards in the industry.
Investment management consists of developing an investment approach with a client based on their goals and risk tolerance and then implementing it through regular monitoring of invested assets. Financial planning includes investment management, but it is only a fraction of what it entails. Financial planning looks at your whole financial life, from cash flow and budgeting to insurance, estate planning, debt, and tax planning. In doing so, we are able to come up with a plan that goes far beyond investment management and assures that every piece of your financial life is working in tandem to move you toward your life goals. (See a sample financial plan here.)
Guide Financial Planning provides investment management for our financial planning clients. We work with Schwab as our custodian and ascribe to an evidence-based investment philosophy. We strive to harness the collective wisdom of the stock market in order to maximize returns over the long term by investing in a diversified portfolio of low-cost mutual funds.
Each client is invested with a unique asset allocation based on their specific goals. As a part of our ongoing financial planning services, we will also help you determine how to invest accounts that we cannot manage, such as your 401(k) or HSA.
You don’t need any set amount of money to work with Guide Financial Planning. Unlike most financial advisors, we have no asset minimums. We want to bring quality, objective financial advice to those who haven’t had a chance to accumulate wealth yet and therefore usually only have access to product salesmen.
Our clients are the only ones that pay us. (And they do so through monthly or quarterly billing.) We receive no other compensation based on products or investments we recommend, so we are fee-only financial planners.
We don’t charge as much as other financial planners because we want to be able to work with people who can’t afford traditional financial advice. We run a lean business without fancy offices and mahogany desks so that we can have lower fees and no asset minimums and help normal, everyday people instead of just the wealthy.
Our goal is to provide more value than we cost. We want to help people, so if we don’t think we can put you in a better position than you are now, we won’t work with you. For examples of how we have saved our clients money or helped them earn more, read this blog post. While we do improve our clients’ financial situations, most of them say that the greatest value we provide is actually the peace of mind of knowing that they are on the right track and they aren’t trying to figure everything out alone.
Modern technology has made it possible to work with clients in other states and even other countries. In fact, our Guide Financial Planning team itself is spread out in different states and time zones. For client and team meetings, we use Zoom, which is a video conferencing program.
While technology is great for communicating, it can also present security concerns. We have processes in place to mitigate these, such as not emailing Social Security numbers and using 2-factor authentication.
Just because you’re not at a point in life where you’re ready for a comprehensive financial plan doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from some expert financial advice. Because of that, we offer Quick Start Sessions. In a Quick Start Session, we take 1 ½ hours to sit down and discuss your most pressing financial needs and offer our insight and expertise. We then follow up the session with an email detailing what was discussed, the different options available to you, our recommendations based on what you told us, and the next steps that you need to take in order to accomplish your goals.
We understand that people’s lives change. If you ever feel that our services are no longer a good fit for you, you have the option of discontinuing service. It’s pretty easy to do. Just notify us in writing and we will cancel your monthly billing. There are no back-end fees, no surrender charges, no cancelation fees, and no hard feelings.
No, you do not have to be a Christian to work with Guide Financial Planning. We work with people of all faiths and walks of life. You just need to be okay with the fact that we view finances from a biblical perspective and our advice will align with biblical principles, as discussed with the next question.
We view finances through a biblical lens and our advice aligns with biblical principles. However, it is important to note that most of the world’s commonly accepted financial principles also align with biblical principles, such as minimizing debt, providing for your family, and generosity. Because of our extensive training, we are able to help you understand what the Bible says about difficult financial topics and how to apply them in your own unique situation.
There are great benefits to working with a financial planner who shares your Christian worldview. We better understand your values and can help you understand how to apply the Bible to your financial life. Our Guide financial planners are highly trained, some having gone through the Kingdom Advisors’ 20-hour comprehensive training on integrating faith and finances.
We do not believe that you should work with a specific financial planner just because he or she is a Christian, though. You should make sure that the financial planner you choose to work with is a highly trained expert in all areas of finance. Your financial planner’s worldview is important, but you should not sacrifice expertise or technical knowledge just to work with a Christian.
Having helped facilitate Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, we are intimately familiar with his Baby Steps and agree that they are an excellent framework for getting your financial life on track. However, we do not believe that such a simple one-size-fits-all approach is best for every person’s unique situation. When we look at your entire financial situation in depth, we might find that there are certain areas where we would recommend deviating from Dave Ramsey’s approach.
Yes, we do. In fact, one of our financial planners, Amy, writes the popular personal finance blog for pastors, PastorsWallet.com, and also wrote a book on the housing allowance. We have worked with numerous pastors and conducted exhaustive research on the minister’s housing allowance and how best to maximize it for our clients. We would be happy to help you do the same.