Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I hire a financial advisor?
Consider the circumstances for which you seek professional guidance. You visit a doctor for your health, you turn to a lawyer for legal matters and you even call on a stylist for the perfect haircut. Your finances shouldn’t be any different. If you are like many people, you rank your finances as one of your top priorities, along with family and health. Something this important should warrant professional advice. Financial advisors can help clients identify the strengths and weaknesses of their current financial situation, recommend strategies and provide some confidence.
Once you determine that you should work with a financial advisor, it is even more important to find the right one. Some characteristics to consider include:
- Is your financial advisor fee-based or does he/she earn commissions?
- Does your financial advisor offer financial planning?
- Is your financial advisor’s investment platform based on an open architecture?
- Does your financial advisor use proprietary products?
A financial advisor who makes his/her clients’ best interests central to every recommendation will want to learn a lot about you and your situation before suggesting any investment products or strategies. When you visit your doctor, your lawyer or your hair stylist, he or she will ask questions before doing anything. Your financial advisor should do the same.
How does Fragasso charge for services and how much?
As a fee-based investment advisor, we charge an annual fee for the personalized, holistic financial planning and investment management of our clients’ accounts. This fee, which is based on a tiered fee structure, is deducted from each account on a quarterly basis. And as your assets grow or if you add assets to your account, your total fee may be reduced according to our tiered fee structure. We are happy to share our tiered fee schedule at your initial meeting.
Our nonprofit clients benefit from a 25 percent reduction in fees.
How do you select investment products for a client?
Investment products and recommendations are selected for clients based on holistic financial planning that incorporates the client’s goals, risk tolerance, tax implications and investment time frame. Once the account allocation is determined, our centralized Portfolio Management Department works diligently to select the proper investment for each unique situation. Investments within accounts are continuously monitored and rebalanced in accordance with the client’s goals.
In addition, Fragasso Financial Advisors has no proprietary products or allegiance to one specific fund company.
If I buy this investment, what's your commission, if any?
Fragasso Financial Advisors is a fee-based asset management firm that does not operate on commissions or transactional business. We are held to a fiduciary standard so that our clients can be confident the advice they are receiving is in their best interest.
What makes Fragasso Financial Advisors different from other firms?
Each client has a team consisting of a financial advisor, portfolio manager and administrative specialist, who are all focused on keeping your goals on track with continued analysis, controls and on-going review of your portfolio.
And speaking of your portfolio, while constructed to pursue your individually crafted goals, it is managed centrally by our in-house, credentialed Portfolio Management Department.
This simple structure is different from many other investment firms and helps ensure your investment priorities are in alignment with the implementation of your asset allocation.
We are a registered investment advisor. That means we adhere to a fiduciary standard of care that requires us to serve our clients’ best interests at all times. We do not have proprietary funds or products and we will only choose the investment vehicle or service that fits your needs. (Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training, nor any regulatory endorsement or approval of our investment advisory services.)
Our success is aligned with our clients’ success:
Fragasso Financial Advisors is financially vested in optimum client performance. In other words, as a fee-based investment manager, we have an inherent interest in seeing our clients’ assets grow as our relationship evolves. All employees, including the financial advisors, are paid a salary and share in profits of the firm.
We are proud of the fact that after more than four decades in the industry, so many clients have chosen to stay with us throughout a variety of economic environments and through the evolution of our firm. Our client retention could not be possible without our exceptional client experience.
1Based on accounts January 2009-December 2014
What is a fiduciary?
Acting in a fiduciary capacity, we have five primary responsibilities when it comes to clients.
- To put clients’ interests first
- To always act in good faith and with candor
- To provide full and fair disclosure of all material facts
- To not accept any compensation contingent upon the purchase or sale of a financial product
- To proactively disclose all conflicts of interest that may impact clients
What services does your firm provide? What types of clients do you specialize in?
Fragasso Financial Advisors is an independent financial planning firm, specializing in personalized investment management and financial planning. We create, implement and monitor a written financial plan, and our centralized team of portfolio managers builds a customized portfolio that best fits our clients’ needs. These needs can be quite diverse, as we work with individuals, families, business owners, retirement plan trustees and nonprofits.
What is your investment approach?
The first step toward building an investment plan for our clients is to fully understand their goals, both in the short and long term. With these priorities recognized in the financial plan, our portfolio management team creates a customized portfolio that seeks to help our clients meet their objectives.
Rigorous, time-tested principles of asset allocation, diversification and independent research enable a wide universe of options for working towards client goals. Our unique structure allows for financial advisors and investment managers to continually collaborate on our clients’ behalf. The portfolio managers play a key role in helping to keep clients on pace toward their goals with continued analysis and ongoing review.
Will I be working only with you or with a team?
Fragasso Financial Advisors uses a team structure to guide our clients toward their goals. It truly makes us different from other firms.
Your primary contact will be your financial advisor. He or she works alongside a portfolio manager and a client account specialist, each of whom play an important role in the management of your assets. It is your advisor, however, who will speak with you regularly and meet with you for review. We are proactive, and you should feel free to contact your advisor at any time with questions or to discuss changes.
This communication standard is set for at least one phone conversation each quarter and one face-to-face meeting each year to monitor your progress. We will be proactive, and you should feel free to contact your advisor at any time with questions or to discuss changes.
What licenses, credentials or other certifications do you have?
All of our financial advisors and portfolio managers maintain the securities licenses required at both state and national levels to provide our clients with investment advice.
Additionally, financial advisors within our firm hold the appropriate licenses to discuss, recommend and sell insurance products. We encourage all of our staff to pursue professional certifications, and many of our advisors are CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals (CFP®).
The firm also supports its portfolio managers in their career development; many hold the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. We recommend you talk with your advisor about the credentials he or she holds and how they might benefit you as a client.
What is an Investment Policy Statement or IPS?
The Investment Policy Statement (IPS) documents the investments in the plan and why they are being used, the criteria by which each investment will be measured and what actions are required if the investments are not meeting their benchmark. It should drive all investment-related decisions for the plan.
The IPS is one of the most essential tools for managing your assets.For retirement plan sponsors, an IPS is also critical for managing your fiduciary obligation and is required by ERISA.
What is an Education Policy Statement or EPS?
Very differently from other firms, the Fragasso Retirement Plan Advisors department works collaboratively with retirement plan sponsors to create an Education Policy Statement (EPS). The EPS includes an evaluation of the plan demographics, savings rates and investment allocation to identify behavioral trends, educational needs and savings gaps among plan participants.
We then help craft an educational program to address those behaviors with the goal of getting each employee to the proper savings rates and asset allocation. The EPS is reviewed at least annually to assess the effectiveness of the education program.
What is retirement plan design and how can I as a retirement plan sponsor benefit from it?
Most employees and plan sponsors think of a retirement plan in a traditional way – a 401(k) profit-sharing plan. They may have a period of eligibility to voluntarily enroll in the plan, and offer some type of company match and vesting schedule. Many may not utilize the standard pro-rata profit sharing component.
Through proper planning and a complete understanding of the many tools available for retirement plan programs, plan sponsors are able to for example, affect how participants join the plan, increase deferrals automatically, select investments by default and reward employees who may be closer to retirement, or who are key or highly-compensated employees, or have an ownership stake in the company.
In addition to the defined contribution plan, through a plan design analysis, plan sponsors may find that a defined benefit plan may offer the ability to further enhance their retirement savings and tax deferrals.
What is open architecture?
There are five service components to retirement plans: recordkeeping, administration, trustee/custodian, investments and education. These services can be “bundled” with one provider or you have the option of selecting the providers of your choice in an unbundled or “open architecture” plan.
Open architecture offers the ability to choose the best provider for each service in the plan giving you a higher level of expertise and customer service. You can hire the partners that you choose and trust. If at any time there are reasons to replace any provider, you can do so without having to make major changes to the entire plan.
It also leads to more fee transparency. In a truly open architecture plan you have the flexibility of investment selection without regard to fund family requirements or proprietary funds. It gives plan trustees the ability to create an investment lineup using low-cost mutual funds without additional fees or restrictions.
Who is LPL Financial? Who holds my money?
Your accounts will be held at LPL Financial, one of the largest independent broker-dealers in the country1, a top registered investment advisor custodian, and a leading independent consultant to retirement plans, offering an open architecture-style trading platform and no proprietary products of their own to market.
Fragasso Financial Advisors is an independent RIA and does not have the authority to act as the custodian for client assets. We have a strict internal compliance policy and are subject to annual audits by our broker-dealer, LPL Financial, and by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
LPL will produce monthly audited statements, which you will receive in hard copy format or electronically. You will also receive correspondence from LPL related to your investments and accounts. You can elect to receive this documentation electronically.
How do I get started?
So you’re ready to get started? Great! Give us a call or fill out this form today to speak with one of our advisors. Once we know a little more about you, we can schedule a meeting to get further acquainted. We will discuss the process of putting an analysis together for you, which typically includes an in-depth portfolio analysis coupled with baseline capital projections indicating whether or not you are on the right track financially and where improvements are needed.
Our introductory meeting will cover a range of items. So that we can make an accurate assessment of your current financial situation, we recommend you bring the most recent monthly statement for each financial account you and your spouse have including:
- Mutual funds
- Personal brokerage accounts
- Stock options
- Savings accounts/CDs
- Company sponsored retirement plans (401(k), 403(b), etc.)
- Pension plan information/estimates
- 529 plans for college savings
There is no charge for this meeting. Your biggest investment at this stage of the process is the time it will take to gather together your personal account data and meet with us.
You like what you've seen. What's next?
If our approach to personalized, holistic financial planning that is free from investment bias sounds good to you, then now is the time to take the next steps toward your financial future. A credentialed financial advisor will contact you to have a high-level conversation about your current situation, expectations and needs.