1. So what, exactly, is a fee-only financial planner?
Good question, and there is no quick answer. In Ontario the terms "financial planner" and "financial advisor" are not regulated so anyone can set up shop and call themselves that. The Ontario government is working on this and might change it shortly but as of right now this is the case.
At Merrick Financial a financial planner is someone who offers unbiased, trustworthy advice about your financial affairs, risk management, retirement planning, investment planning, tax planning and estate planning. We offer a financial plan, a retirement plan or an hourly fee service.
Customers of ours have said that they appreciate the high level overview of their financial life we provide as this can often be forgotten when other professionals (lawyer, accountant, etc.) do their individual part. The return we offer to our clients is the peace of mind that all aspects of their financial life are being integrated and working optimally together. We use top rate, modern financial planning software to project your financial affairs well into the future. All with unbiased advice as we are not selling you anything more than our time.
2. What is the DIFFERENCE between a FEE ONLY FINANCIAL PLANNER and a FINANCIAL ADVISOR?
A traditional Financial Advisor is one who manages your investments and provides minimal financial planning. Their revenue model is to make fees off those investments, sell you insurance and other products. Sometimes this business model that relies on commissions can lead to conflicts of interest and not generate the best outcome for the client.
3. How often do I need your services?
Well that depends. Some clients will just use us for hourly advice, some will want a full financial plan done once and others will have some combination of the two and come back to us every few months. If we do a retirement or financial plan we recommend a yearly meeting to make sure that you are on track and to see if there have been any changes in your situation.
4. Do you sell/ offer financial products like mutual funds, stocks, bonds, ETF's?
The answer is no.
We do not hold a securities licence and cannot tell you which individual stocks, ETF's, etc. to buy. What we can tell you is the correct asset allocation, how to invest cost effectively (robo advisor, self directed, investment advisor, etc.) and how to invest tax efficiently. Don't confuse our services with what some "fee only financial advisors" offer, which is to manage your investments for a certain percentage of them. There is nothing wrong with this business model, it is just not what we offer.
We offer unbiased, trustworthy advice about your investments as we don't make a commission, kickback or referral fee from them.
5. Who are our Clients?
Our services are for all residents of Ontario regardless of income or asset levels. Their income and asset levels can be from just getting started to millions of dollars.
They live in Ontario and are happy to communicate via video conferencing, email and phone. They are looking for unbiased, trustworthy advice and do not want this to be mixed up with investment and / or insurance product sales.