Frequently asked questions
How do I get started?
Why should I work with TCM Wealth Advisors?
TCM is an independent, fee-only financial advisory firm providing financial planning, investment management and wealth management. We strive to develop lifetime client relationships through our distinctive approach and uncompromising commitment to help clients with their life planning needs. To achieve this objective, we avoid conflicts of interest, provide world-class financial advice and employ proven investment techniques to help our clients reach their long-term financial goals.
What does "Fee-Only" mean, and why should I work with a "Fee-Only" financial advisory firm?
The term "fee-only" describes how TCM is compensated. As a fee-only *Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm, we don’t sell financial products, insurance or anything else that pays a commission. We are committed to a fee-only approach because we are committed to avoiding conflicts of interest. As a fiduciary, we have a responsibility to always act in our clients' best interest. Our firm's revenue is completely transparent and comes from the financial planning and investment advisory fees paid by our clients. These fees may be hourly, a flat fee or retainer, or based on a percentage of your assets under management. Because we are a true fee-only financial planning and investment advisory firm, you can have confidence that our recommendations are in your best interest only. You'll never need to worry that we'll try to "sell you something" in order to be paid for providing financial advice.
What's the difference between "Fee-Only" and "Fee-Based" financial advice?
Fee-only financial advisory firms (like TCM Wealth Advisors) are paid solely and directly by their clients, without receiving any commissions, referral fees or other compensation from other parties such as brokerage firms or fund companies. We believe this is the best way to remain impartial and avoid conflicts of interest. Fee-based financial advisors from independent firms and Wall Street firms (i.e., Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo) may receive commissions on some products they sell, but may also be paid directly by their clients. We believe that you should not work with someone who only benefits when you buy their financial products.
What is a fiduciary? Is TCM a fiduciary FIRM?
Yes. A fiduciary has a defined, legal obligation to act in a clients’ best interest versus the best interest of the fiduciary. As a *Registered Investment Advisory firm with fiduciary responsibilities, we have a legal obligation to act in the best interest of every client. TCM is held to the highest fiduciary standard in the financial services industry. We have structured our business to ensure that our recommendations are in your best interest, not ours. TCM operates as a fee-only fiduciary firm, which means we receive no commissions for the sale of recommended financial products from brokerage firms, fund companies or other third parties.
What is the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification, and why should I work with a certified financial PLANNER™?
The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification is a professional certification that represents a high level of professional education which requires passing an examination with 89 financial and legal topics, fulfilling experience and education metrics and acting in an ethical manner. Because there is no federal or state law or regulation requires financial planners to hold CFP® certification, anyone can call him or herself a financial planner. Individuals who have earned the CFP® mark have passed a rigorous examination and are held to a fiduciary standard. This standard means that we as CFP® practitioners are legally obligated to provide our clients with the "highest standard of care" possible.
What is a *Registered Investment Advisor?
A *Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) is a firm that is registered with the state in which it does business, or nationally with the federal Securities Exchange Commission, to provide investment advice. An RIA is held to a fiduciary standard, meaning they are expected to act in the best interest of their client at all times. As fiduciaries, an advisor must employ a policy of full disclosure with their clients to help avoid potential conflicts of interest. As a fee-only investment advisor, TCM removes potential conflict by accepting compensation only in the form of client fees.
How is TCM compensated?
We are compensated directly by our clients. We do not accept any referral fees, soft dollars or commissions from anyone for anything.
WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF WORKING WITH A FEE-ONLY ADVISOR?
One of the major benefits of working with a fee-only advisor is the freedom from the inherent conflict of interest that can arise when a significant portion of the advisor's income comes from selling you financial products like annuities or life insurance.
Do you offer tax or legal advice?
No. We have developed strategic partnerships with CPA and law firms that can provide our clients with tax or legal advice if needed and upon request.
Do you earn a commission by selling life insurance or annuities?
No. We are a fee-only *Registered Investment Advisory firm. We work only on behalf of our clients, not as a licensed insurance agent for an insurance company. We don't collect commissions by selling insurance or annuity products, but upon request, we can provide unbiased advice to our clients about specific products tailored to their unique situation.
Are you a licensed insurance agent with a life insurance company or agency?
No. We do not sell insurance or annuity products for any company. However, we can get quotes on policies for you and work on your behalf to help you choose the right type, amount and features of a life insurance product, as well as help you compare and evaluate products from competing companies.
How is TCM Wealth Advisors different from a brokerage firm like Merrill Lynch, Raymond James or other brokerage firms?
TCM offers a different value proposition than is typically available through traditional Wall Street firms. Some of those differences include:
- Our Responsibility: As an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), we have a fiduciary obligation to always put our clients' needs first. Brokers who are employed at brokerage firms are held to a lower "suitability standard" -- which is not a legal standard – under which a broker is supposed to recommend suitable investments. In practice, this means that a broker does not necessarily have to put a client's needs ahead of their firm's needs.
- Our Fee Structure: TCM relies exclusively on a fee-only model. Our firm does not receive commissions or fees from any source other than our clients. In contrast, many brokers are paid via commissions. They have a strong incentive to invest you in products that carry high commissions or loads so that they will make more money, which may or may not be attractive investments or the best investments for you.
- Our Obligation to Disclose: Unlike brokers, *Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firms are subject to strict disclosure rules requiring that they provide their clients with their Form ADV, which lists potential conflicts of interest and their compensation practices.
- Our Independence: TCM does not have financial relationships with any brokerage firms or money managers and thus we are not obligated to favor, nor are we compensated to recommend, any firm's proprietary investment products.
Does TCM adhere to a fiduciary standard on behalf of its clients?
Yes, absolutely. We are strong proponents of the Fiduciary Standard. We believe in always placing our clients' interests ahead of our own. We believe in doing what is right, especially when no one is watching. Therefore, we are proud to commit to the following five fiduciary principles:
- We will always put our clients' best interest first.
- We will act with prudence; that is, with the skill, care, diligence and good judgment of a professional.
- We will not mislead clients, and we will provide conspicuous, full and fair disclosure of all important facts.
- We will avoid conflicts of interest.
- We will fully disclose and fairly manage, in our clients' favor, any unavoidable conflicts.
As legislators, businesses, and the courts go about interpreting and implementing the long-awaited Department of Labor rule issued in April of 2016 which imposes a fiduciary standard on commission compensated financial advisors (.i.e., stock brokers and insurance agents) who handle retirement accounts, we accept these five fiduciary principles as a core standard of what it means to put our clients' interest first.
When TCM enters into an advisory relationship with a new client, we provide them with a signed copy of this Fiduciary Oath developed by the Committee for the Fiduciary Standard. If a financial advisor will not provide you with a signed copy of this Fiduciary Oath and commit to a fiduciary standard, you should not entrust your financial future to that person. They certainly will not be acting as a fiduciary on your behalf nor working in your best interest.
What is holistic financial planning?
Holistic financial planning is a process that involves a detailed review and analysis of your entire financial situation including debt and cash flow management, retirement planning, risk management, investment management, tax management and estate planning. Through our thorough planning process, we work with you to crystallize your financial objectives and to get a clear understanding of your current situation – where you are now and where you want to be in the future.
Does TCM only provide comprehensive financial planning?
No. While we believe a financial plan can provide the most benefit for a client, we can limit or tailor our services to meet your specific needs, like cash flow analysis, portfolio analysis, 401(k) allocation review, retirement planning or college planning.
How long has TCM Wealth Advisors been in business?
TCM Wealth Advisors was founded in 2004.
How do you work with clients remotely?
We are delighted to "meet" with you anywhere in the world by phone and Internet. We have clients that are located all over the country and travel around the world, so this has become a very convenient way for us to meet virtually by phone/world wide web. You can schedule a meeting with us Here.
In one sentence, what will TCM do for me as a client?
We provide you with the "Financial Confidence" that comes from knowing that you have laid the foundation for a more secure financial future.
Can clients keep their assets where they are and make investment management changes themselves?
We prefer to work with clients under a discretionary relationship where they give us the authority to make investment decisions. In limited circumstances, we may offer non-discretionary investment management services under which clients could make their own investment management changes.
What other costs besides an asset under management fee are involved when working with TCM Wealth Advisors?
You will pay transaction fees for securities transactions executed for your account, as specified in the custodian’s transaction fee schedule. Other fees include custodial services fees, account maintenance fees, transactions fees and other fees associated with maintaining your account. TCM does not charge these fees; they are charged by the product sponsor, broker/dealer or account custodian. TCM does not share in any portion of these fees. You may also pay a proportionate share of the fund’s management and administrative fees and sales charges as well as the mutual fund adviser’s fee of any mutual fund they purchase. These advisor fees are compensation to the fund manager and are not shared with TCM.
How often will TCM Wealth Advisors review an investment portfolio?
We continually review the underlying securities within TCM managed accounts, Third Party managed accounts and client accounts on at least a quarterly basis.
How often will TCM Wealth Advisors meet me after the initial investment and financial plan has been implemented?
We request that you meet with us at least once a year. Individual client portfolio reviews may also occur at times of change in your financial and life situation that may require a revision of your investment plan. Reviews may involve analysis of securities, asset allocation, sensitivity to various markets, investment reviews and other factors.
What does ‘discretion’ mean?
Discretionary investment management means that buy and sell decisions are made by an investment advisor without the prior consent of the client for each transaction. TCM Wealth Advisors manages most client accounts in a discretionary capacity.
Is a client obligated to stay with TCM Wealth Advisors for any specific period of time?
No. While we strive to establish life-long relationships with our clients, they are free to terminate their advisory relationship with us at any time.
Is there a charge for an initial consultation?
No, we do not charge for the first meeting. If we can help you, we'll let you know how. If you would like our help, you can let us know when. It's that simple!
Is there a minimum account size?
No. We generally seek advisory clients who desire to establish a discretionary investment management relationship with at least $500,000 in assets, which can include company-sponsored retirement plans. Third party managers may require a minimum account size.
I’m in charge of the retirement plan and employee benefits at my company and would like to get more employees to participate in the plan. How can you help us?
We’ve presented numerous retirement and financial planning workshops to many companies in the Northeast Ohio area about the benefits of participating in company sponsored retirement plans. We’re happy to help you and your employees. Please contact us to schedule a meeting.
important Questions you should ask before deciding to work with a financial advisor:
- Are you legally obligated to act in my best interests at all times? If so, are you willing to put that in writing? Make sure you understand whether an advisor is a true fiduciary or whether he or she is merely acting under a suitability standard. The suitability standard is a lesser standard than the fiduciary standard, which requires an advisor to act in a client’s best interest at all times. Anyone who claims to uphold a fiduciary standard should be able to put it in writing. If not, you're definitely working with the wrong advisor.
- Will you disclose all potential conflicts of interest? A fiduciary should be willing to disclose any relationship, compensation structure, incentive or other factors that may hamper his or her ability to act impartially in your best interests. If not, consider that a red flag as to future conduct should you proceed with an advisory relationship.
- How are you compensated? Ask if the advisor is paid directly by their clients (fee-only) or if they receive commissions, referral fees or other financial incentives (trips). Many financial advisors promote themselves as "fee-based” financial planners, but also accept commissions and other incentives that could impact their objectiveness.
Can you afford to trust your financial future to an advisor or firm that won't commit to a fiduciary standard at all times?
What if I have a question that's not on this list?
Contact us and we'll be happy to answer it.
Don't leave your financial future to chance. It's your family. It's your money. It's your future. It's your responsibility.