Fee-Only Financial Planner serving the Phoenix, AZ area.
My internal struggle
For years, I struggled with two ideas that shape most Fee-Only Financial Planning offerings. First…the idea that 1% (in some cases more) is the best solution when considering ongoing investment advice. Second, many Fee-Only firms serve only high net worth investors and families. Third, many firms require transfer of investments before completing a plan review. They consider planning to be in addition to investment management. I feel that investment management should be an addition to financial planning.
My struggles created Disciplined Money, LLC. I wanted to offer a cost effective solution that provides financial planning solutions to families that often don’t fit the “typical financial planning model.”
If you decide to work with Disciplined Money, your plan and ongoing management (if you choose) will be based on an hourly fee rather than a percent of assets managed. As with all NAPFA planners; you are the only person who pays us.
My name is Bob Burger. I am the founder of Disciplined Money, LLC. I hold the Certified Financial Planner™ and the Retirement Management Analyst® designations. As mentioned above, I created Disciplined Money with the goal of serving a market segment that was too often ignored or sold commissioned product.
As I considered creating Disciplined Money, a client’s comment (different firm and fee structure) cemented the idea that I would need to alter my approach to pricing for financial planning and investment advice. I considered this concept for years. With his comments, I knew I had to make a change.
We just completed his financial plan. He was pleasantly surprised when he learned his plan projected a high level of success. Prior to his plan review, he felt he was in good shape, but he hadn’t really looked at the numbers. He challenged the results from multiple viewpoints, but the numbers are the numbers. Like many, he was making decisions based on emotions rather than information. Our discussions were as much or more about the psychology of money as they were about dollars and cents. A good planning process tends to follow that path.
After thanking me for providing financial clarity, he stated he would like to have an ongoing relationship with continued conversations. At the time, that meant ongoing management of his investments with an annual fee of 1%.
He pointed out that once he retired, his plan projected a balance of close to $1,000,000 (lower today). “Bob, while I believe there is value in an ongoing relationship, your current structure means I would be paying approximately $10,000 a year for your services. This would be, by far, my largest service expense.” That day, I knew I would be building a firm that could address the goals of clients like him.
Bob Burger is a Member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is the country’s leading professional association of Fee-Only financial advisors - highly trained professionals who are committed to working in the best interests of those they serve.
NAPFA members live by three important values:
- To be the beacon for independent, objective financial advice for individuals and families.
- To be the champion of financial services delivered in the public interest.
- To be the standard bearer for the emerging profession of financial planning
What we believe families really want from a financial advisor/planner: We believe you want to know if you are likely to reach your financial and retirement goals based on what you are doing today. If you are likely to reach your goals, you’ll maintain your current plan. If changes are required, you want to make informed decisions based on numbers and experience. You don’t want to guess or be sold a solution.
We believe you want a voice as you review and adjust your plan. You do not want to be talked down to (surprised at how often we hear this). You do not want to be sold products without understanding how they benefit you rather than the salesperson. We don’t sell products, but there will be times you need to buy insurance, etc.… We believe you benefit from the guidance and education gained when gaining input from someone who is not compensated based on the sale.
We believe you are willing to take the steps needed to reach your retirement and financial goals. You want to measure and review how various choices alter your outcome. Together, we’ll discuss and in many cases revisit, debate, and finally agree upon the choices that are best for you. You will likely find financial planning is simple (math), but perhaps not easy (emotions). We view your plan from a numbers perspective. You balance the numbers with emotions.
We believe you seek a trusted, non-emotional, unbiased opinion…not a sales pitch. You understand financial planning is a process rather than an event. You recognize you’ll need to revisit your plan. At that time, you’ll review your plan and determine if you remain on track. When course corrections are needed, you’ll take the necessary action.
Review Your Plan: We say review rather than create because you have a financial plan. In its simplest form, it is the combination of what you earn, spend, save, invest and protect. So, you aren’t really looking to build a plan. You are looking to measure the potential success of your current plan. If not successful, you will consider changes. We begin all relationships with a plan update.
Three Key Questions: First question…what do you have now? Many plans were created over time. They often consist of individual pieces that may or may not work well together. We review and discuss how to create a simple, efficient and cost effective plan that creates an acceptable outcome.
Next, we consider where you want to be…your financial vision. Are you closing in on retirement and want to know how you will manage without a consistent paycheck? Maybe you are looking to help your child with college expenses and are questioning whether you can afford to (without sacrificing retirement). Or, maybe you are just starting out and want to better understand how to balance student loans, your desire to buy a home and invest for the future. No matter your vision, we need to measure whether your current plan is likely to get you there (and adjust as needed).
Finally, we consider what could go wrong. As we review your plan, we consider the events that could or would undermine everything you created. What keeps you up at night? Can we remove that risk without altering the success of your plan? Together, we’ll discuss choices and compare tradeoffs.
Most importantly, our goal is to educate…not sell. Because our fee is based on hours rather than commissions, we can focus on your best choices without compensation conflict. We can share results (even if they are less than optimal) without the fear of losing “the sale.”
Most of our plan reviews take between four and eight hours ($600 to $1,200). The number of hours is based on the complexity of your plan. We will likely meet two or three times with work completed (both of us) in between meetings. You receive a review of our conversations (discussing various choices is the best part of the planning process) and a roadmap of your next steps as we complete your review. You may decide a plan update is all you need today. Or, you may decide that you would benefit from ongoing updates and advice. The choice is yours.
If, after completing your plan update, you decide you would prefer ongoing advice, we offer ongoing planning and investment management based on an estimate of hours, not a percentage of assets.
If 1% isn’t the right number, what is? We base all fees (financial planning and investment management) on hours rather than a percentage or commissions. This is a slightly different approach to the typical financial planning service model. See “about me” tab for the history behind this decision.
For the most part, your portfolio will be reviewed (with suggestions shared) during the initial planning review. Going forward, rebalancing and adjustments require time (which have a cost). Your ongoing fee for financial and investment management advice is one hour per quarter per account with a six-hour annual minimum.
Here is an example. If you have 3 accounts (a taxable account, and two IRAs), your quarterly fee is $450 (current hourly rate is $150 at 3 hours per quarter). Your annual investment for investment and planning guidance is $1,800. In most cases, outside accounts (like 401ks) are not included in this calculation (we discuss them in the planning updates).
Let’s compare this to the 1% fee structure. If your portfolio equaled $300,000, 1% would equal $3,000; $500,000 would equal $5,000. Ongoing advice includes investment management and financial planning updates.
If we consider commissions, a $100,000 investment into a 5% loaded product (annuity, mutual fund or other) equals a $5,000 cost. Some investors are happier not seeing the expense directly, but it is a cost that needs to be considered.
We hope our fee structure persuades families who have considered asking for help in the past to actually visit a real financial planning solution without the fear of being sold product or receiving conflicted advice.
Are we right for you? If our approach piques your interest, let’s talk. The best way to determine if we would work well together is to schedule a time to talk. There is no cost for this meeting. We consider a two-way interview. We want to know more about you to determine if our system would work for you and you are interviewing us to determine if working with us would be beneficial for you.
Fee-Only, Fiduciary, Independent: Three Important Criteria to Consider When Choosing a Financial Advisor.
- Comprehensive Financial Planning
- Retirement Income Planning
- Investment Management
- College Education Planning
- Tax Planning
- Retirees and Near Retirees
- Growing Families
- Business Owners and Executives
- Sudden Money Situations
- Novice Investors
- In-Office Meetings
- Virtual Meetings
- Clearly Defined Fees
- No Product Sales
- Complimentary Initial Consultation
Professional Designations & Affiliations
Bob Burger is a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor
The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is the country’s leading professional association of Fee-Only financial advisors—highly trained professionals who are committed to working in the best interests of those they serve.
Bob Burger is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional - Click for Verification
CFP® professionals are held to strict ethical standards to ensure financial planning recommendations are in your best interest. What’s more, a CFP® professional must acquire several years of experience related to delivering financial planning services to clients and pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Exam before they can use the CFP® designation.
Bob Burger is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®)
A CDFA® professional is a financial professional skilled at analyzing data and providing expertise on the financial issues of divorce. The role of the CDFA® professional is to assist the client and his or her attorney to understand how the decisions he or she makes today will impact the client’s financial future. A CDFA® can take on many roles in the divorce process: Financial Expertise and Strategy, Data Collection and Analysis, Expert Presenter and Litigation Support. In some cases, CDFA® professionals are called upon to act as expert witnesses in court or in mediation proceedings.
Contact Bob Burger
3420 E Shea Blvd
Phoenix, AZ 85028