Wall Street Journal contributor Jason Zweig has published articles designed to help consumers find a financial advisor who is right for them. You can read these articles on Jason’s website here and here. These articles outline a series of questions you should ask a financial advisor before doing business with him or her.
To help you decide if SeaCure Advisors is the right fit for you, Carolyn Howard provides answers to all of Jason’s questions below.
Are you rated by the Better Business Bureau?
Yes, we are rated A+. Click here to see our BBB page.
Can I see your listings on the regulatory websites for the SEC and FINRA?
Are you always a fiduciary, and will you state that in writing?
Does anybody else ever pay you to advise me and, if so, do you earn more to recommend certain products or services?
No one pays us to advise you.
We are licensed insurance agents in order to provide a full spectrum of financial products to our clients (see below). We earn commissions on insurance products, but will waive our planning fees if one of these products is appropriate and you purchase a policy.
Do you participate in any sales contests or award programs creating incentives to favor particular vendors?
Any insurance company we work with has, we have found, various contests and awards to motivate agents to sell a certain number of products. We absolutely NEVER participate in these contests and will only recommend insurance products if you specifically ask for them or if we believe they are appropriate given your needs, goals, and risk tolerance.
Will you itemize all your fees and expenses in writing?
Are your fees negotiable?
Will you consider charging by the hour or retainer instead of an annual fee based on my assets?
Can you tell me about your conflicts of interest, orally, and in writing?
We provide insurance products and they pay commissions. If a client buys one of these products, we waive our ongoing financial planning fees. Also, because we are fiduciaries, we will only ever recommend a product if we believe that it provides the preferred means of helping the client achieve his or her goals within his or her risk profile.
When an insurance product is appropriate, we do not recommend an outside agent to conduct that business. The reason for this is that we are beholden to the fiduciary standard, which is currently not a requirement for insurance agents. We know that we will keep your interests as our top priority but cannot guarantee the same will be true when dealing with an outside agent.
Do you earn fees as adviser to a private fund or other investments that you may recommend to clients?
Do you pay referral fees to generate new clients?
Do you focus solely on investment management, or do you also advise on taxes, estates and retirement, budgeting and debt management, and insurance?
We provide comprehensive financial planning which may encompass all or part of these services. We will provide you with planning and advice based exclusively on your unique situation.
Do you earn fees for referring clients to specialists like estate attorneys or insurance agents?
What is your investment philosophy?
To provide the client with a risk/return compliant with their risk profile, time horizon, and goals.
Do you believe in technical analysis or market timing?
We do not believe in timing the market. We have tactical style portfolios that are based on mathematical and technical analysis modeling.
Do you believe you can beat the market?
How often do you trade?
We do not trade. Our investment managers trade to rebalance portfolios.
How do you report investment performance?
After all expenses, we compare to an average of custom benchmarks that includes dividends or interest income, over the short and long term. In addition we provide you with a financial overview tool to that will send you – and us – a weekly report on how your money changed over the prior week.
Which professional credentials do you have, and what are their requirements?
My associates and I all carry the CFP® marks. We are also currently training an associate who is actively enrolled in CFP® courses. CFP® stands for “Certified Financial Planner” and means that we have completed a rigorous curriculum of courses, passed the CFP® exam, have worked a minimum of three years in the field, regularly complete continuing education, and maintain the fiduciary standard.
After inflation, taxes, and fees, what is a reasonable estimated return on my portfolio over the long term?
We cannot by law guarantee a rate of return, but a reasonable expectation would be 3% to 6% returns annually, net of fees.
Who manages your money?
I do, and I invest in the same assets I recommend to clients.
How do you define risk?
Risk is the potential to gain or lose something of value.
How do you manage risk for clients?
We design portfolios based on the risk profile, time horizon, and goals of our clients. These will be unique for every client, so there is no single answer that applies to everyone.
When you meet with us, you will be asked to complete a risk assessment questionnaire. This is our starting point. From there we will ensure that the plan we craft for you will allow you to reach your goals without exposing you to more risk than you desire or need.
How big do you want your firm to become?
Our goal is to serve 50-100 clients.
How do you evaluate and provide evidence that your investment strategies are effective?
We evaluate our investment strategies based on custom benchmarks that measure blended indices returns relative to our returns net of fees. We also want strategies that ensure diversity via having distinct sectors with minimal overlap.
To achieve this we utilize tools that provide a simple, numerical representation of our performance against an index such as the S&P 500 or a customized blend of indices, as well as representations of portfolio diversity. This software enables us to evaluate our strategies and performance in a graphic, easy-to-digest manner. We share all of this information with you during quarterly review meetings.
Why should I do business with you instead of a competitor?
We provide options for you that include planning, only without the need to invest or buy a product from us. As fiduciaries, our focus is on you, our client, not on our competition. Our goal is to provide you with advice and planning that are always in your best interest.
What are your most valuable services?
Our comprehensive financial planning is the heart of the company. We believe your risk tolerance, time horizon, and goals are processes, not objects, and will change as your life changes. We will check in with you regularly and make sure your plan is meeting your needs.
In your own portfolio, what is your favorite investment?
I have an ETF portfolio with multiple asset classes. I do not have a favorite investment. I want to meet my goals using the same assets that we provide to our clients.