FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How does Amicus differ from other financial advisors?
We have the legal obligation to act as your fiduciary agent and to always do what is in your best interest (we are not an agent of a large investment company with the legal obligation to do what is in the best interest of that company).
We do NOT accept commissions on any mutual funds or exchange traded funds used within our clients’ investment portfolios, absolving us from an inherent conflict of interest to which most financial advisors are subject. Clients receive only objective, unbiased advice from us.
We use a comprehensive and holistic approach to financial planning.
We do not bet on popular funds, nor do we chase after high investment returns that are not maintainable in the long-term. Instead, we focus on the tried and proven strategy of creating and adhering to a disciplined investment strategy and striving for long-term rates of return that will allow our clients to meet their goals, while minimizing risk as much as is possible.
Our firm is made up of JDs, CPAs, and CFP® professionals – one of the most highly educated and credentialed firms in the country with over 90% of our planners having university degrees specifically in Personal Financial Planning.
As an independent firm, we have access to the entire universe of investments, allowing us to invest our clients’ money in the best mutual funds and exchange traded funds in the world.
We have long-term relationships with our clients and always remain committed to adjusting their financial plan as their goals and circumstances in life evolve.
We measure our own success by our clients’ success in achieving their goals in life.
Is there a charge for an initial meeting?
Amicus does not charge any fees to prospective clients until they actually decide to become clients. We want you to be comfortable with our approach and service offerings. We understand that there is a decision and thought process. In some instances it has taken as many as three meetings and often includes a few phone calls to clarify points of our service, before a client comes on board.
How are trades made?
If you give us “limited discretionary authority,” we can make trades on your behalf. This does not allow us to withdraw money from your account – the custodian firm will always hold on to the assets until you tell them to disburse funds. If we are not given discretion, then you need to sign every order. This would typically be done at our quarterly update meeting. When we recommend or make trades, it is within the scope of your personal investment policy statement – usually as part of a scheduled rebalancing procedure or to make tax-motivated trades.
How often will we meet after we implement the financial plan?
The short answer is – as often as you would like. If you hire us to provide ongoing asset management services, we schedule quarterly update meetings to report on the progress toward your goals and discuss any rebalancing activities that are necessary to keep you on track. After the first year, many clients choose to meet less often and receive the update reports through the mail. We also meet with you whenever other issues arise that you would like to discuss with us.
Other than your fees, are there ongoing investment costs?
Yes. However, we always try to control expenses through infrequent trading, using low cost providers, and indexing where appropriate. Our reports provide you with the details about all the fees and expenses you incur. The costs you are likely to incur include: custodial fees, trading costs, and management fees and expenses. Together, these expenses are likely to total between 0.20% and 0.50%.
May I have my custodial account debited for my asset management fee?
Yes, you are more than welcome to choose this option.
Who holds the investments?
Accounts are set up in your name with a custodial firm, either National Advisors Trust Company, Schwab Institutional, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, TIAA Cref or Pentegra.
How often do I receive reports for my investment accounts?
The custodians we use issue monthly statements and give you online access to your accounts at any time. We provide written quarterly reports of your account, preferably in person.
Can you manage trust assets for me?
Through our relationship with National Advisors Trust Company, FSB, and Capital First Trust Company, we can be appointed to manage the investments within trust accounts.
Can Amicus help me obtain financial products?
Yes, we can bring you the whole financial supermarket. We have access to most financial products through alliances with other firms. The vast majority of the products that we offer our clients are no-load, including all of the investment products and many of the insurance products. We have contracted with several third-party custodians of investment assets including: Charles Schwab Institutional, TD Ameritrade Institutional, and National Advisors Trust Company. Through these and a few other custodians we can access stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange traded funds, real estate investment trusts, money market funds, separately managed account programs, etc. Insurance products are accessed through a variety of brokerage general agents most notably Crump. Through these arrangements, we can access annuities and life, health, disability and long-term care insurance products from dozens of highly-rated companies. We can obtain structured settlement annuities and other settlement funding arrangements through our affiliations with Summit Settlement Services. We can also establish and service qualified and non-qualified retirement plans. We do not currently offer property or casualty insurance although our advisors evaluate our clients coverage.
What is the Amicus investment policy?
To read about the Amicus investment philosophy please click here.
Are your fees deductible for federal income tax purposes?
Yes. The portion of our fees allocated to tax and investment planning qualifies for an itemized deduction. However, it is subject to a 2% of adjusted gross income floor because it is a miscellaneous deduction.
What is the cost of the average plan?
Every plan is unique and each is priced individually based on the amount of work involved. It’s a lot like quoting a price to paint a house, we need to gather a little information to size up the job before we know what is involved and how it should be priced. We will give you a binding estimate at the end of our first meeting. The price will not be higher than the amount quoted at that meeting. Planning fees range from $1,000 to $7,500 depending upon the complexity of the engagement.
How does Amicus charge for its services?
We charge hourly fees that range from $100 – $150/hour depending on who does the work, a percentage of the assets for which we provide ongoing management, and commissions on some life insurance, fixed annuity, disability income insurance and long-term care insurance.
Will I be working with just one advisor?
No. We employ a team approach so that you can benefit from the expertise of the entire firm. You will have a planner assigned to you that will be your primary point of contact, but you are always welcome to contact any Amicus associate with your questions.
Why should I choose a fee-based financial advisor?
Fee-based financial planners are less likely to be biased by sales commissions. They do not rely on selling products or generating trades to earn their living. Instead, they are paid by you for the effort that they expend. At Amicus, we do not accept commissions from investment products, but sometimes we do receive commissions from life insurance and annuity products. When we do, we fully disclose the commission that we receive.
How do I know if I need a financial advisor?
Personal finances are becoming increasingly complex and at some point in their lives many people realize that the cost of “winging it”, or carefully educating themselves about finances and staying abreast of changes, outweighs the cost of obtaining professional advice. Sometimes a financial mistake, a major decision, a major life event, or just becoming too busy to keep up brings a client to our office. There are many reasons to consult a financial professional and if you have doubts about a major decision, it is probably time to ask an expert in the field. It’s a lot like deciding whether to hire a lawn service. If you derive satisfaction from doing it yourself, have a great looking yard and the time to keep up with it – you probably don’t need to hire it out. However, if you do not like doing it, your lawn looks terrible, or you do not have time for it – bring in the experts. However, the analogy breaks down when you compare the consequences of a financial mistake and a lawn care mistake. For most people there is more at risk in their financial lives than a little embarrassment when neighbors and guests see a poorly groomed yard.
Basically a financial planner can save you time and aggravation while circumventing potential pitfalls. The cost is likely to be entirely offset by increased investment returns and saved taxes and expenses. However, the primary benefit you receive is the peace that you feel knowing that your financial house is in order.
Am I required to obtain a financial plan prior to engaging Amicus for asset management services?
This is the way that we prefer to work because a financial plan gives us the opportunity to get to know you better and to find out about the rest of your financial life. Our investment recommendations are affected by your insurance policies, tax situation, employee benefits and personal risk profile. Therefore, we prefer to begin with a comprehensive financial plan. That said, we work for you and you control the scope of the engagement. If you prefer to just have us manage your investments, we will do it your way.
Once the plan is implemented, will our relationship continue?
We hope so. We seek to establish a life-long relationship with every client. We are available to manage your assets or for more limited engagements from time to time.
If I hire Amicus to produce a financial plan, am I obligated to buy anything or to use Amicus for ongoing money management?
No. We give advice – we don’t issue orders. You are always in charge. Your financial plan will contain our very specific recommendations based on our professional opinions. We would be delighted to help you implement the plan, but you are not obligated to use our other services or even to follow our recommendations.
Will this require a major time commitment from me?
Yes, initially, but our long-term goal is to save you a lot of time and worry. We spend a lot of time in the beginning learning about you and what is important to you. We do this by asking you to complete a very thorough questionnaire, meeting with you, pouring over your financial documents and, when necessary, speaking with your other financial advisors. That part takes some time on your part: digging through your files for documents, filling out the questionnaire, and meeting with us. After the plan, there is more work ahead of us as we implement the plan. However, once we have the information we need and have made the changes that are in your best interest, we strive to lift the burdens from you. From the point that we have completed initial implementation, we begin to do almost all of the work for you. Don’t worry about us, we have systems in place to make this relatively easy.
What is comprehensive financial planning?
Financial planning is comprehensive when it looks at every aspect of your finances and integrates them into an overall plan that acts as a blueprint as you manage your finances. A comprehensive plan is built on the foundation of your goals. Life is full of financial decisions and a strategic plan to accomplish your goals is necessary in order to efficiently navigate them. Financial planners focus on your goals, objectives, priorities and values – the big picture of your financial life.
What does “Amicus” mean?
Amicus is a Latin word meaning friend. We chose the name to convey the close and trusted relationship that we hope to earn from each of our clients.