Frequently Asked Questions
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Our sole mission is to help you make the most of your one financial life. We believe in straight talk, good old-fashioned common sense, intense research, hard work on your behalf, and complete transparency. Importantly, we serve one master – our valued clients. We don’t work for (nor do we accept compensation from) any brokerage firm, insurance company, or financial company. We are a “fee-only” firm, and we never accept commissions for the sale of financial or insurance products. Every ounce of our allegiance flows directly to our clients and every penny of our compensation flows directly from our clients via fully disclosed fees. And, speaking of fees, you’ll find the total cost of our service offering to be among the most competitive in the industry.
We are backed up with a deep bench of wealth management professionals through our strategic alliance with Forum Financial Management. Forum is an independent registered investment advisor firm of 30 investment professionals (including CFPs, CPAs, and attorneys). Forum provides Align and it’s clients with a deep multi-disciplinary bench of high caliber professionals. Each Forum principal brings over 25 years experience in one or more aspects of financial management including: investment portfolio design, retirement, estate, insurance, and tax planning. Importantly, like Align, Forum is engaged in delivering wealth management services in the real world to real clients. Throughout the years, our ability to freely share ideas with other successful wealth management firms has proven extremely valuable to our family of clients. Together, Align and Forum manage over $1.5 billion.
Think about it … does it really make sense for a financial advisor to recommend one thing to you and then invest his/her own money in something different? Without exception, the elite financial advisors that we’ve met invest right alongside their clients. When their clients prosper, the advisor prospers, and when their clients suffer, the advisor suffers. As it should be.
If this makes sense to you, when interviewing potential advisers ask them if they invest in the same investments that they recommend to you and ask to see their personal investment statements to confirm. To be clear, the personal wealth (excluding our homes) of all Align partners is invested in the same portfolios as our clients, as is our company’s retirement plan. Of course, we gladly produce our statements to anyone becoming a client.
If you are comparison shopping among advisers, it is important to ask each of them the same questions. Request a financial planner interview questionnaire that will help you choose the financial advisor that is best suited for you and your family.
|Account Size||Annual Fee|
|$500,000 — $1,000,000||1.00%|
|Advisory Fee for $2,000,000 Account||1.00%||0.95%|
|Third Party Portfolio Management Fee¹||Varies||None|
|Mutual Fund Expense Ratio||1.25%||²||0.26%||³|
|Mutual Fund Trading Charges||1.44%||4||0.09%||5
In addition to utilizing Asset Location, we take a number of additional steps to maximize your after-tax returns:
- During our investment screening process, we assess the tax efficiency of each potential holding. Our objective is to identify investments that will deliver solid after-tax returns.
- We consider carefully whether it makes sense to continue to hold investments that we might otherwise sell once they have built up large capital gains. Using our own proprietary portfolio trading software, we assess the opportunity cost of holding an existing position with a significant unrealized gain vs. selling and generating capital gain taxes. We review a variety of scenarios before making a final sell decision.
- When the markets are volatile on the downside, we look for opportunities to harvest capital losses by selling investments, or specific tax lots, that have unrealized losses that could be used to offset gains on a client’s tax return.
- If we are planning on selling an investment position with a gain, we will first consider the holding period and if we are close to creating a long-term capital gain, (after a one year holding period), then we may consider holding the position for a few more days or weeks in order to allow the client to take advantage of lower tax rates on long-term capital gains.
- For our taxable accounts that include fixed income, municipal tax-free bonds are often used in lieu of taxable bonds.
- Develop a firm understanding of your unique willingness, ability, and need to engage market risk via appropriate diversification
- Understand how all your assets will be used to meet your goals
- Minimize your investment expenses
- Manage for appropriate asset location between taxable and tax-sheltered accounts
- Eliminate any unnecessary complexity within your portfolio
- Minimize your taxes
We will accept securities into your managed account. However, most of them will not be retained unless they are the same securities currently being utilized in the target portfolio set forth in your investment policy statement. It is our professional and ethical duty to manage your portfolio to the best of our ability. This includes selecting and monitoring all securities held in your account. Of course, we will work with you to ensure that any transitions occur as smoothly and cost-effectively as possible.
As you may know, DFA seeks to protect the reliability of its funds, and to keep shareholder expenses low by requiring investors to access DFA funds via a select group of financial advisory firms. You can learn more about DFA by visiting www.dfaus.com.
We rebalance based on the unique investment objectives described in your Investment Policy Statement (IPS), so we also strongly encourage clients to let us know whenever their objectives change, in case we need to adjust their allocations, their IPS, and thus their rebalancing activities.
Important Disclosures: Performance results are presented net-of-fees and reflect the reinvestment of dividends and capital gains. Portfolio returns are composite returns of all clients invested within the respective portfolios. Individual results may vary as each client’s portfolio is customized to their particular circumstances. In addition, returns will likely vary based on the timing of deposits and withdrawals, as well as the use of asset classes and investments that are not part of our current portfolio allocations. Returns are time-weighted returns. No current or prospective client should assume that the future performance of any specific investment or strategy will be profitable or equal to past performance levels. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss and past perfomance is no indication of future performance. Changes in investment strategies, contributions or withdrawals, and economic conditions may materially alter the performance of your portfolio. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment or strategy will either be suitable or profitable for a client’s investment portfolio. Historical performance results for investment indexes and/or categories generally do not reflect the deduction of transaction and/or custodial charges or the deduction of an investment management fee, the incurrence of which would have the effect of decreasing historical performance results. There are no assurances that a portfolio will match or outperform any particular benchmark.
Account Operations & Reports
Insurance &; Other Matters
If appropriate, we then take your information and create a draft investment plan to align your money with your goals and objectives. In our second meeting (the Investment Plan Meeting), we review your draft investment plan with you. During this Investment Plan Meeting, we walk you through your plan and highlight the investment strategies that we recommend to help you maximize the probability of achieving your goals.
At this point, we find that many people want to immediately move ahead. Instead, we typically ask that you set a time for a Mutual Commitment Meeting. This allows you to take your plan home so that you have plenty of time to review it. We do this because we are looking for lifelong relationships, not short-term transactions. At the Mutual Commitment Meeting, we answer any questions you have about your investment plan and discuss any fine-tuning adjustments. If we mutually agree that we have a strong basis for a continued working relationship, we then assist you in completing the documents needed to get your plan started.
A Fiduciary is a person who is responsible for managing the assets of another person and who stands in a special relationship of trust, confidence, and/or legal responsibility. As a Fiduciary, we have the legal responsibility to follow prudent investment practices, as well as to serve the client’s best interests. The Align Wealth Management Client Agreement specifically identifies Align Wealth Management as your investment fiduciary. We also have designed our operations to reflect prudent practices and procedures.
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