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Some Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most common questions I receive about my what I do and what I can offer to my clients. If you don't find your question here, or even if you do, you can use the button below to schedule a meeting with me.

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Defining Things

What is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional?

The CFP® certification required me to complete a rigorous course of study that typically takes two years or more. The six required courses are designed to develop detailed technical financial planning knowledge in six areas of study. I also passed a comprehensive exam that tested my ability to apply financial planning knowledge.

As a CFP® certificant I am required to complete ongoing continuing education courses every year.

I am proud to have added the CFP® credentials to my resume because it helps prepare me for the next 20 years of financial planning practice. I am better able to meet client needs now than ever before.

What is a fiduciary?

The important thing to know is that about two out of 100 “financial advisors” hold the Accredited Investment Fiduciary designation. It requires me as the advisor take legal responsibility for putting my client’s interests first at all times. Many big firms don’t even allow the financial advisors to act as a fiduciary because they don’t want the liability. So, somebody working for a brokerage firm, mutual fund company or insurance company may not be a fiduciary. You should always ask to see a statement of fiduciary duty in writing.

Those people who don’t work as fiduciaries work under what is called a suitability standard that requires that they only present products that are suitable to the client. They present the product and ask the client whether the client wants to proceed or not. And legally the client is responsible for the choice, because they were presented with an opportunity and they chose to proceed. I’ve never liked that. I’m much happier under the fiduciary standard.

Since my firm is fee-only, I only have one boss – my client. Nobody else pays me. Nobody sets a sales quota. Nobody has a quarterly product focus or anything to muddy up the conversation. I work for my client. I’m paid by my client and I’m rewarded for helping my clients reach their next financial goals. And I love it that way.

What’s the difference between fee-only and fee-based?

Fee-Based = some services are paid for via fees and other services are paid for via commissions and product related fees. All of this should be disclosed, but it still has the potential to create a conflict of interest between the advisor's incentive to sell a product and the client's best interest.

Fee-Only = the only compensation is from fees paid by the client. I only have one boss – my clients. Nobody else pays me. Nobody sets a sales quota. I’m paid by my client for helping them move toward their financial goals. When they do better, I do better. And I love it that way.

What is an independent Financial Planner?

Follow this link to read a recent blog post with lots of details about being an independent Financial Planner.

What does comprehensive financial planning mean?

At Dunncreek Advisors, a comprehensive financial plan is comprehensive in two ways:

First, it provides consulting services and follow up for one year so your plan is not just presented to you, it's implemented and working for you.

Second, I address six areas of your financial life:

  • Cash flow and budgets: Where does your money go now?
  • Risk management: Do you have plans or insurance in place to protect you from the likely risks you face?
  • Investment management: Are your investments working hard enough to get you to your financial goals on time?
  • Retirement planning: Are you on track to retire when you want to in the way you want to? Are you positioned to successfully transition from accumulation of wealth to distribution of wealth as you retire? Are you sure that you will not outlive your money?
  • Tax planning: Are you paying too much in taxes? Can we structure your financial plan to reduce your tax burden during your retirement years? Can we transfer wealth to the next generation with minimum taxes?
  • Estate planning: What is the financial legacy you wish to leave when you are gone? What legal instruments do you need in place to ensure your wishes are carried out, efficiently and effectively?

The Types of Things I Do

What products do you offer?

I am experienced in all aspects of the financial service industry and can advise you on products like:

  • Insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Long-term health care insurance
  • Property-casualty insurance
  • Workers comp insurance
  • Business continuation insurance
  • Annuities
  • Fixed annuities
  • Variable annuities
  • Mutual funds
  • Exchange trade funds
  • Closed end funds
  • Common stocks
  • Corporate bonds
  • Tax-free bonds
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Any other publicly traded financial instrument

Can you help me with investments?

Yes, Dunncreek Advisors can help you buy or sell securities and can manage all the typical investments you might own. And, since I am not paid on sales commission, you know that my recommendations about investment products are based on your financial goals and not sales quotas.

Can you help me with a retirement income plan?

I specialize in creating retirement income plans designed so that my clients will not outlive their money. Watch below to learn more.

Can you advise me on my 401(k) at my work?

Yes, as a fee-based advisor I can help you with any financial issue or investment account, no matter where it is. I often advise clients on their work retirement plans. It’s an important part of the retirement income plan for most people.

Can you help me get my 401(k) out of my old job?

I help many clients with old retirement accounts from prior jobs. It’s very common that accounts like this get forgotten as your career unfolds. It’s a great idea to gather those up into one, self-directed IRA that’s under your control, not part of a retirement plan at a company you worked at years ago.

What should I do with my inheritance?

Meeting with Me

Do I have to come downtown?

No, of course not. I am happy to meet you at any convenient location. I have a great location in the First Bank Building in Saint Paul, at 701 Fourth Avenue South in Minneapolis, and at ten other locations around the Twin Cities metro area. I also gladly make house calls.

What should I bring to the first meeting?

Our first meeting will be focused on getting to know each other and understanding your financial goals. Bring anything along you think will help you explain your situation.

In the first visit we will discuss:

  • The financial planning topics that bring you to a meeting today
  • Your key questions and concerns about the financial planning process
  • My services and how I help families meet their financial goals
  • Ideas on how we might work together and what it would cost

The following are some things that may be helpful if you ask me to prepare a comprehensive financial plan for you:

  • What significant career changes do you or your significant other expect to make between today and retirement?
  • What significant purchases do you plan to make in the next five years?
  • Are you expecting to help anyone with college education expenses? And what does that look like in percentages or total dollar terms?
  • When do you plan to retire, year and month?

The following are some things that may be helpful if you ask me to prepare a comprehensive financial plan for you:

  • Tax return
    • trust companies,
    • brokers,
    • mutual fund companies,
    • annuity contracts,
    • other direct investments
  • Budget of personal and living expenses – you have a couple options here:
    • A chart of income categories and expense categories over the last year with monthly average
    • Bank statements from last three to six months showing total average deposits and total average withdrawals
    • Latest mortgage and other loan statements
    • Latest will, power of attorney

What licenses do you have?

I am registered representative and an investment advisor representative of Royal Alliance Associates member FINRA/SIPC, an SEC registered investment advisor. See the firm’s disclosure documents for more information. See my individual disclosure document here.

I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. The CFP® certification required me to complete a rigorous course of study that typically takes two years or more. The six required courses are designed to develop detailed technical financial planning knowledge in six areas of study. I also passed a comprehensive exam that tested my ability to apply financial planning knowledge.

As a CFP® what is I am required to complete ongoing continuing education courses every year.

I hold the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) designation from the FI360 organization.

How much does a fee-only advisor cost?

It depends on your situation and the services you need.

  • Our hourly consulting rate is $300 per hour.
  • For investment management services, we act as our clients’ fiduciary and proactively manage investment accounts to reach client goals. The typical charge for this is 1% of the assets under our care with a $1,500 per quarter minimum.
  • Comprehensive financial planning will vary depending on the complexity of your situation. (See details elsewhere in the FAQ.)
  • Some plans will be completed in a few hours of hourly consulting.
  • Many plans are completed for $5,000 - $7,000.
  • More complex plans will cost more.

Do you have a minimum fee?

There is a $1,500 minimum for hourly consulting.

Our minimum quarterly fee for on-going advisory services is $1,500 per quarter.

What's the difference between the Fiduciary Standard and the Suitability Standard and why would I care?

Fiduciary Standard

A fiduciary advisor must place his or her interests below that of the client. The advisor has a duty of loyalty and care. The advisor must act in the best interest of his or her client.

Suitability Standard

A suitability obligation, is defined as recommendations that are consistent with the best interests of the underlying customer. The advisor is expected to reasonably believe that any recommendations made are suitable for clients, in terms of the client's financial needs, objectives and unique circumstances. A key distinction in terms of loyalty is also important, in that a “suitability” advisor's duty is to her employer, not necessarily the client served.

The Reason to Care

You should always understand for whom you advisor is working. Are they expected to serve the interests of their employer, or do they act in the best interest of the client? I believe that a fiduciary financial advisor is better positioned to have fewer conflicts of interest and serve the client's interests more effectively.

See more at this link.

What can I expect when I become a Dunncreek client?

Our client service model is shown here.

For every client we work through the following process:

  • Identify and prioritize objectives
  • Gather information on your current situation
  • Analyze your situation and alternative options
  • Propose recommendations
  • Implement recommendations
  • Six-month check point review (as needed)
  • Year-end review

Do I have to have to buy a financial plan to work with you?

You can buy as many services or as few as you like. And remember, the first meeting is always free.

Defining a DunnCreek

What the heck is Dunncreek anyway?

As a kid growing up on the farm we raised livestock of all kinds: horses, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guinea fowl, peafowl, dogs and cattle. Our family believed that every investment in livestock needed to pay a dividend in the form of offspring that could be sold at a profit. All our stock was purebred and pedigreed.

The tradition in animal husbandry is that when you raise pedigreed stock you name each animal using a prefix which is your farm name. In our case the farm was called Dunncreek Farms. So, our stock was named Dunncreek’s Lucky Lady, Dunncreek’s Dancing Doll and so on.

When I started my first consulting business in 1994, I named it after the family farm. It was a marketing communications consulting business serving agricultural companies so I called it Dunncreek Communications. When I started this financial advisory firm I named it Dunncreek Advisors in tribute to the generations of farmers who made investments in their fields and flocks and collected dividends at harvest time each year to provide for the generations to follow.

My goal is to carry on the tradition of my ancestors by leaving the world a better place for my clients and for my family as a result of me having been here.