Frequently Asked Questions
I'm often asked questions along the lines of how I operate and what my policies are, so I've compiled a list of these questions that may not be address in enough detail in the other sections of this site. Please don't hesitate to ask me directly if you have additional questions.
What are your credentials?
The credential I'm most proud of is the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation. It takes at least three years of work experience, required coursework, and a grueling two day test (at least it was two days when I took it). I became certified on July 2nd, 2014 and my ID # is 159478 if you'd like to verify this.
I also obtained an MBA in financial planning from California Lutheran University in 2011. The financial planning program at CLU is known as one of the top programs in the country and was one of the very first of its kind.
While it may not be a credential, I'm also proud to have taken the fiduciary oath as a CFP®, a member of the XY Planning Network, and a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).
What is your experience?
I began working in the financial services industry in 2008 when I joined up with a company that rushed me through the licensing process so I could sell mutual funds to my family and friends for a commission. After about two months it became clear that their business model was simply to tap into new recruit's natural networks, so I left.
The whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth, but I knew I could pursue this career path the right way by gaining the knowledge and experience through enrolling in the masters in financial planning program at California Lutheran University in 2009 and interning with Retirement Planning Associates in 2010. I completed the financial planning program in 2011 and continued to work at RPA where I put together financial plans for the firm's clients.
In 2012 I began working at Erman Retirement Advisory where I continued to create financial plans, but also began managing portfolios and worked directly with clients.
In 2016, I came across the XY Planning Network, a group of younger advisors who work with younger clients and put financial planning first rather than investment management. I joined up with the network and launched Sycamore Wealth Planning and have been providing financial planning services along with investment management since.
Are you a fiduciary?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is that the word "fiduciary" has become quite a buzz word and is often defined differently depending on the context. The essence of a fiduciary is putting the needs of your clients ahead of your own. While there is no such thing as a conflict-of-interest free arrangement, it can be reduced by receiving compensation based on work performed rather than on selling a product and receiving a commission. This is why I chose to become a fee-only financial planner where I don't accept any commission of any kind but rather charge a fee for unbiased advice.
How do you get paid?
I'm a fee-only financial planner. This means that I don't accept commissions of any sort. Within the fee-only umbrella, though, there are two common types of fees.
- The most common fee you'll come across is the percentage of assets under management, or AUM. I charge an AUM fee for any investment management I do for you. I list my AUM fee on the Investment Management page if you'd like to look.
- An important difference about working with me is that investment management isn't my core offering where I would only charge an AUM fee. My core offering is comprehensive financial planning and I charge an hourly fee to keep my advice as unbiased as possible. My rate is $200 per hour and I provide a free consultation to determine how many hours of work will be necessary to develop a personalized financial plan. Check out the financial planning page for more details on this.
Do you have account minimums?
I don't have account minimums. For a financial plan, I charge an hourly rate so you don't have to have any assets to manage to get sound financial advice. If you do have assets that you'd like managed, I'm set up to take on any amount so you don't have to worry about being turned away if you have less than $500,000, or whatever the minimum amount may be.
Have you ever been accused of unethical or illegal practices?
Never. But that's exactly what an unethical person would say, right? So the best thing to do would be to look me up on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's (FINRA) broker check website. My CRD # is 5589426, or you can simply search by my name.
Please also check me out with the Board of Certified Financial Planners, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and the XY Planning Network. You'll find that I'm in good standing with all of them.
What organizations do you associate with?
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.
Member of the XY Planning Network
How do you keep your client's information secure?
Cyber security is a big concern of mine and of the industry. If you are going to entrust me with your private information, I do everything within my power to protect it.
First, I have a policy not to collect any sensitive information unless it's necessary or to send sensitive information over email.
Second, any local hard drives (laptop, desktop, smartphone) are encrypted and locked with complex passwords.
Third, any files stored in the cloud are first encrypted locally, then transmitted into the cloud where it's encrypted a second time so that if anyone ever hacked my Google Drive account, they would only find encrypted files.
Lastly, I utilize third-party services that also will have your sensitive information. Please review their individual security policies below.