Frequently Asked Questions

+ What is financial planning?
The financial planning process, as defined by the CFP Board, is:

  1. Establishing and defining the relationship
  2. Gathering client data
  3. Analyzing and evaluating the client’s financial status
  4. Developing and presenting the financial planning recommendation(s)
  5. Implementing the financial planning recommendation(s)
  6. Monitoring

The financial planning process, as defined by Brian, is:

  1. Determining if the financial planner and potential client are a good fit
  2. The process of identifying the client’s goals
  3. Compiling, reviewing and analyzing the client’s current financial status
  4. Educating the client on the pros and cons of the available options, including adjusting goals when necessary, and mutually agreeing upon financial planning recommendation(s)
  5. Implementing the financial planning recommendation(s)
  6. Monitoring the client’s financial status, goals and life changes
+ What does values-based mean?
Values-based in the context of financial planning is the alignment of the client’s goals, recommendations, and financial behaviors with their real values.

We work thru an exercise to identify the client’s top 5 values and then all financial goals, recommendations, and financial behaviors are viewed from the perspective of those 5 values.  It is not the financial planner’s role to make judgments on what the client’s values should or should not be but to instead make recommendations in alignment with the identified values and to hold the client’s financial behaviors accountable to those values.  As the client’s values change over time, which they are likely to do, we work thru the values exercise again and make adjustments to the financial planning process to match the new values.

+ What does fee-only mean?

All financial planners get paid in one way or another for their job; however, as you may now suspect, they do not all get compensated in the same way.  A fee-only financial planner is paid directly, and only, by the client utilizing a transparent and pre-arranged payment plan.  Commission-based financial planners are paid thru other sources including by the companies they recommend.  For example, if they sell you a specific investment, mutual fund, insurance or other products, they receive a commission or partial commission directly from the company.  This compensation can vary greatly depending on the financial product purchased by the client.

It is important for a client to know the source of the financial planner’s compensation as it is easy to see that compensation can influence the financial products recommended as well as the focus of the financial planner.  Because a fee-only financial planner’s compensation comes only from the client, they will consistently offer you the best financial advice that they have as pleasing the client will bring them long-term business.  A commission-based financial planner may be focusing on the companies they work for before the client’s best interest and that may not be beneficial for all clients.

Iron Mountain Financial Planning, LLC is a fee-only Registered Investment Advisory firm that offers two methods of payment for financial planning:

  1. An upfront fee and monthly retainer for on-going, comprehensive financial planning
  2. A one-time hourly fee based upon the client’s specific issue

Investment management is also provided with an asset-based advisory fee schedule.

+ And so what is values-based, fee-only financial planning?
As you might have now concluded, values-based, fee-only financial planning is a combination of the above three frequently asked questions.  It is the financial planning process based upon the client’s true values where the financial planner is compensated only from the client utilizing a transparent and pre-arranged payment plan.  For many clients, the values-based, fee-only financial planning process helps them identify their true values and goals and helps them keep their financial decisions in alignment with their values.
+ Why should I hire you when I can simply do it myself?
I enjoy working with my hands and was gifted with at least some mechanical ability.  Because of this, I personally only use mechanics for tasks where specialized tools are involved where the purchase of these tools does not make economic sense for our family.  Because of this, I perform 99% of our family’s mechanical tasks; from rotating tires and oil changes to troubleshooting and fixing check engine lights to a complete front end replacement due to me hitting a deer.  Mounting and balancing tires is an example where we hire out the work as it doesn’t make financial sense for us to purchase either of the machines required for those task, we just don’t do it enough to justify the capital cost.  I would say that I am a do-it-yourselfer in the area of mechanical tasks.

Alternatively, there are people who either do not enjoy these tasks or do not have the mechanical ability to do them on their own so they hire the work out to a mechanic.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with either approach.  In some ways, financial planning and investment management are tasks that some people have the time and ability to do themselves and are tasks that they enjoy doing – these are the do-it-yourselfers.  Others elect to spend their time and energy in areas of their lives that are more important to them and choose to hire these tasks to a professional.  Once again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with either approach.

Vanguard released a report using their own data that found that investors who used an advisor had an average return over a full market cycle that was 3% per year greater than investors who did it themselves.  This increase in returns is not from beating the market every single year, but resulted from the guidance and advice that advisors provide throughout the full market cycle.

The report showed that advisors add value in 7 specific ways that contributed to the returns:

  1. Behavioral coaching
  2. Cost-effective implementation (expense ratios)
  3. Rebalancing
  4. Suitable asset allocation using broadly diversified funds / ETFs
  5. Asset location
  6. Spending strategy (withdrawal order)
  7. Total-return versus income investing

I will add that the report focused solely on returns from investment management which is one of the services provided by Iron Mountain Financial Planning, LLC.  It did not attempt to quantify the quality of life returns clients experience from working thru the financial planning process, becoming clear on their values and goals, and implementing a plan to get them where they want to go; which I am not sure that anyone could ever put a number to.

+ Who is your typical client?
My typical clients fall into one of three categories:

  1. Hard-working, young individuals and families who want to make the right financial decisions today to increase their odds of being in a much better position in the future. These clients work very hard for their money and want their money to work even harder for them.
  2. Pre-retirees who can see retirement on the horizon and want to position themselves and their assets to best prepare them for retirement. In many cases, I help them work thru what the term “retirement” means to them and what their ideal retirement would look like.
  3. Retirees who want to generate income from their assets in today’s low interest rate environment in a low-cost, tax-efficient manner.  I work with them to ensure that they are not taking on more risk than necessary to reach their goals, develop a spending strategy (withdrawal order), position assets in the correct type of account and coordinate with their attorney on a cost-efficient estate plan.
+ What is your investment philosophy?
I invest your money based on your long-term goals, your tolerance for risk, and your investment time horizon.  From this, I construct an appropriate globally-diversified, cost and tax efficient portfolio.  With the exception of the Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) portfolios, I practice passive investment management.

Passive investing involves building portfolios that are comprised of various distinct asset classes.  The asset classes are weighted in a manner to achieve a desired relationship between correlation, risk and return.  Funds that passively capture the returns of the desired asset classes are placed in the portfolio.  The funds that are used to build passive portfolios are typically index mutual funds or exchange traded funds.

Passive investment management is characterized by low portfolio expenses (i.e. the funds inside the portfolio have low internal costs), minimal trading costs (due to infrequent trading activity), and relative tax efficiency (because the funds inside the portfolio are tax efficient and turnover inside the portfolio is minimal).

In contrast, active management involves a single manager or managers who employ some method, strategy or technique to construct a portfolio that is intended to generate returns that are greater than the broader market or a designated benchmark.  Academic research indicates most active managers under-perform the market.

+ Who is NOT a good fit for Iron Mountain?
Anyone wanting to build their investment portfolio by selecting individual stocks, trying to beat the market or attempting to time the market.
+ Do I have to come into your office?
No, I work with several clients throughout the United States utilizing Skype, phone and email.
+ Do I have to pay for the first meeting?
No, there are no fees for the first meeting which is typically used to see if we would be a good fit to work together and determine expectations.
+ What is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation?
Although many professionals may call themselves “financial planners”, CFP® professionals have completed extensive training and experience requirements and are held to rigorous ethical standards.  They understand the complexities of the changing financial climate and know how to make recommendations in your best interest.
+ Is my money safe?
Your money is held at a custodian bank, which is insured by the SIPC for up to $500,000 per account type.  Unlike FDIC insurance for banks, SIPC does not protect against losses due to normal market swings.
+ Why did you name your firm Iron Mountain?
Iron Mountain Road is a 17 mile stretch of road in the Black Hills of South Dakota with 3 pig-tail bridges and 3 tunnels that are cut into the rock so that each tunnel frames Mt. Rushmore.  It holds a special place in Nicole and my hearts as one of our favorite roads to ride motorcycles in the Black Hills.
+ Do you work with people outside of Rapid City?
Yes, I work in-person with clients in Wyoming and over to Sioux Falls along with those spread out throughout the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I also have clients in several states where all of our communication is done via Skype, phone and email.  Our financial planning software, RightCapital, provides a secure vault that we use to safely exchange sensitive documents electronically.
+ I would like to learn more, what is the next step?
Click here to schedule a discovery meeting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is financial planning?

The financial planning process, as defined by the CFP Board, is:

  1. Establishing and defining the relationship
  2. Gathering client data
  3. Analyzing and evaluating the client’s financial status
  4. Developing and presenting the financial planning recommendation(s)
  5. Implementing the financial planning recommendation(s)
  6. Monitoring

The financial planning process, as defined by Brian, is:

  1. Determining if the financial planner and potential client are a good fit
  2. The process of identifying the client’s goals
  3. Compiling, reviewing and analyzing the client’s current financial status
  4. Educating the client on the pros and cons of the available options, including adjusting goals when necessary, and mutually agreeing upon financial planning recommendation(s)
  5. Implementing the financial planning recommendation(s)
  6. Monitoring the client’s financial status, goals and life changes

What does values-based mean?

Values-based in the context of financial planning is the alignment of the client’s goals, recommendations, and financial behaviors with their real values.

We work thru an exercise to identify the client’s top 5 values and then all financial goals, recommendations, and financial behaviors are viewed from the perspective of those 5 values.  It is not the financial planner’s role to make judgments on what the client’s values should or should not be but to instead make recommendations in alignment with the identified values and to hold the client’s financial behaviors accountable to those values.  As the client’s values change over time, which they are likely to do, we work thru the values exercise again and make adjustments to the financial planning process to match the new values.

What does fee-only mean??

All financial planners get paid in one way or another for their job; however, as you may now suspect, they do not all get compensated in the same way.  A fee-only financial planner is paid directly, and only, by the client utilizing a transparent and pre-arranged payment plan.  Commission-based financial planners are paid thru other sources including by the companies they recommend.  For example, if they sell you a specific investment, mutual fund, insurance or other products, they receive a commission or partial commission directly from the company.  This compensation can vary greatly depending on the financial product purchased by the client.

It is important for a client to know the source of the financial planner’s compensation as it is easy to see that compensation can influence the financial products recommended as well as the focus of the financial planner.  Because a fee-only financial planner’s compensation comes only from the client, they will consistently offer you the best financial advice that they have as pleasing the client will bring them long-term business.  A commission-based financial planner may be focusing on the companies they work for before the client’s best interest and that may not be beneficial for all clients.

Iron Mountain Financial Planning, LLC is a fee-only Registered Investment Advisory firm that offers two methods of payment for financial planning:

  1. An upfront fee and monthly retainer for on-going, comprehensive financial planning
  2. A one-time hourly fee based upon the client’s specific issue (links to the two financial planning fee’s on the services page).

Investment management is also provided with an asset-based advisory fee schedule (link to the schedule).

And so what is values-based, fee-only financial planning?

As you might have now concluded, values-based, fee-only financial planning is a combination of the above three frequently asked questions.  It is the financial planning process based upon the client’s true values where the financial planner is compensated only from the client utilizing a transparent and pre-arranged payment plan.  For many clients, the values-based, fee-only financial planning process helps them identify their true values and goals and helps them keep their financial decisions in alignment with their values.

Why should I hire you when I can simply do it myself?

I enjoy working with my hands and was gifted with at least some mechanical ability.  Because of this, I personally only use mechanics for tasks where specialized tools are involved where the purchase of these tools does not make economic sense for our family.  Because of this, I perform 99% of our family’s mechanical tasks; from rotating tires and oil changes to troubleshooting and fixing check engine lights to a complete front end replacement due to me hitting a deer.  Mounting and balancing tires is an example where we hire out the work as it doesn’t make financial sense for us to purchase either of the machines required for those task, we just don’t do it enough to justify the capital cost.  I would say that I am a do-it-yourselfer in the area of mechanical tasks.

Alternatively, there are people who either do not enjoy these tasks or do not have the mechanical ability to do them on their own so they hire the work out to a mechanic.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with either approach.  In some ways, financial planning and investment management are tasks that some people have the time and ability to do themselves and are tasks that they enjoy doing – these are the do-it-yourselfers.  Others elect to spend their time and energy in areas of their lives that are more important to them and choose to hire these tasks to a professional.  Once again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with either approach.

Vanguard released a report using their own data that found that investors who used an advisor had an average return over a full market cycle that was 3% per year greater than investors who did it themselves.  This increase in returns is not from beating the market every single year, but resulted from the guidance and advice that advisors provide throughout the full market cycle.

The report showed that advisors add value in 7 specific ways that contributed to the returns:

  1. Behavioral coaching
  2. Cost-effective implementation (expense ratios)
  3. Rebalancing
  4. Suitable asset allocation using broadly diversified funds / ETFs
  5. Asset location
  6. Spending strategy (withdrawal order)
  7. Total-return versus income investing

I will add that the report focused solely on returns from investment management which is one of the services provided by Iron Mountain Financial Planning, LLC.  It did not attempt to quantify the quality of life returns clients experience from working thru the financial planning process, becoming clear on their values and goals, and implementing a plan to get them where they want to go; which I am not sure that anyone could ever put a number to.

Who is your typical client?

My typical clients fall into one of three categories:

  1. Hard-working, young individuals and families who want to make the right financial decisions today to increase their odds of being in a much better position in the future. These clients work very hard for their money and want their money to work even harder for them.
  2. Pre-retirees who can see retirement on the horizon and want to position themselves and their assets to best prepare them for retirement. In many cases, I help them work thru what the term “retirement” means to them and what their ideal retirement would look like.
  3. Retirees who want to generate income from their assets in today’s low interest rate environment in a low-cost, tax-efficient manner.  I work with them to ensure that they are not taking on more risk than necessary to reach their goals, develop a spending strategy (withdrawal order), position assets in the correct type of account and coordinate with their attorney on a cost-efficient estate plan.

What is your investment philosophy?

I invest your money based on your long-term goals, your tolerance for risk, and your investment time horizon.  From this, I construct an appropriate globally-diversified, cost and tax efficient portfolio.  With the exception of the Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) portfolios, I practice passive investment management.

Passive investing involves building portfolios that are comprised of various distinct asset classes.  The asset classes are weighted in a manner to achieve a desired relationship between correlation, risk and return.  Funds that passively capture the returns of the desired asset classes are placed in the portfolio.  The funds that are used to build passive portfolios are typically index mutual funds or exchange traded funds.

Passive investment management is characterized by low portfolio expenses (i.e. the funds inside the portfolio have low internal costs), minimal trading costs (due to infrequent trading activity), and relative tax efficiency (because the funds inside the portfolio are tax efficient and turnover inside the portfolio is minimal).

In contrast, active management involves a single manager or managers who employ some method, strategy or technique to construct a portfolio that is intended to generate returns that are greater than the broader market or a designated benchmark.  Academic research indicates most active managers under-perform the market.

Who is NOT a good fit for Iron Mountain?

Anyone wanting to build their investment portfolio by selecting individual stocks, trying to beat the market or attempting to time the market.

Do I have to come into your office?

No, I work with several clients throughout the United States utilizing Skype, phone and email.

Do I have to pay for the first meeting?

No, there are no fees for the first meeting which is typically used to see if we would be a good fit to work together and determine expectations.

What is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation?

Although many professionals may call themselves “financial planners”, CFP® professionals have completed extensive training and experience requirements and are held to rigorous ethical standards.  They understand the complexities of the changing financial climate and know how to make recommendations in your best interest.

Is my money safe?

Your money is held at a custodian bank, which is insured by the SIPC for up to $500,000 per account type.  Unlike FDIC insurance for banks, SIPC does not protect against losses due to normal market swings.

Why did you name your firm Iron Mountain?

Iron Mountain Road is a 17 mile stretch of road in the Black Hills of South Dakota with 3 pig-tail bridges and 3 tunnels that are cut into the rock so that each tunnel frames Mt. Rushmore.  It holds a special place in Nicole and my hearts as one of our favorite roads to ride motorcycles in the Black Hills.

Do you work with people outside of Rapid City?

Yes, I work in-person with clients in Wyoming and over to Sioux Falls along with those spread out throughout the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I also have clients in several states where all of our communication is done via Skype, phone and email.  Our financial planning software, RightCapital, provides a secure vault that we use to safely exchange sensitive documents electronically.

I would like to learn more, what is the next step?

Click here to schedule a discovery meeting.

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Iron Mountain Financial Planning LLC (“IMFP”) is a registered investment adviser offering advisory services in the States of South Dakota and Wyoming and in other jurisdictions where exempted. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. The presence of this website on the Internet shall not be directly or indirectly interpreted as a solicitation of investment advisory services to persons of another jurisdiction unless otherwise permitted by statute. Follow-up or individualized responses to consumers in a particular state by IMFP in the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation shall not be made without our first complying with jurisdiction requirements or pursuant to an applicable state exemption.

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