Frequently Asked Questions
Who is your typical client?
Even though each of our clients has a unique story, we’ve found similarities that cause people to seek our help. As a result, our clients tend to fit into one of these three categories: Rising Success, Major Life Events, and Retirement. We also manage investment accounts for foundations and non-profits. On the company retirement plan side, our focus is businesses with less than 100 employees and between $3 million and $20 million in plan assets. As of December 2018, we manage over $1.4 billion in assets for 600 clients in 29 U.S. states.
What is your account minimum?
Our minimum account size is $100,000 of investable assets. If you’re close, we want to talk. If you’re a high earner just starting out and committed to saving aggressively, let’s have a conversation.
Are you a fiduciary?
Yes! P&A is a full-time fiduciary and has been since 1995 when our firm was founded. Being a fiduciary means we are obligated to place your best interests ahead of our own. Here is our Statement of Fiduciary Oath. Consider it a red flag if an advisor won’t sign a fiduciary oath. Beware, some advisors are held to a fiduciary standard only when offering advice and not when implementing the advice (selling you products). These are known as fee-based or dually-registered advisors. If you see “securities offered through…Member SIPC, FINRA” at the bottom of an advisor’s website, it means they get paid to sell you products. This is very different from our fee-only business model.
How are you paid?
As a fee-only advisor, our sole compensation is the management fee our clients pay us. We are not paid by selling financial products or earning commissions. We do not receive any third-party compensation for recommending investments. Here is our Fee Schedule.
How will I benefit by working with your firm?
- We will save you time and help you streamline your financial life.
- We will help you analyze important financial decisions from all angles.
- We will provide you with insights, guidance, support, and encouragement.
- We will help you find any financial blind spots you may have.
- We will help you gain a perspective you can’t get on your own.
We deliver these benefits through the ongoing professional management of your investments and comprehensive financial planning. Professional investment management includes:
- Investing your monies to match your unique goals, timeline, and personality.
- Keeping your monies hard at work by remaining fully invested to your target allocation.
- Ensuring your accounts get the attention they deserve through our defined quarterly review process.
- Monitoring your accounts for rebalancing and tax loss opportunities.
- Reporting your account performance net of our fees compared to your benchmark on a quarterly basis.
Financial planning can range from one-off questions to a comprehensive plan that serves as a roadmap for your future. There are a hundred potential tasks grouped into this catchall phrase. These include:
- Monitoring your progress towards your financial goals.
- Helping you determine a safe withdrawal rate and which accounts to draw down first.
- Exploring Social Security maximization techniques.
- Showing you ways to increase your charitable giving impact.
- Analyzing your retirement account rollover options.
- Reviewing your insurance policies and annuities.
- Ensuring you have basic estate planning documents in place.
- Helping you allocate your company retirement plan monies.
What are your credentials?
Seven members of our team hold the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER designation. The CFP® is the highest professional designation in the financial planning field. CFPs are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years, including two hours of ethics. Also on our team, we have a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), the most rigorous and recognized designation for the investment management industry. We have a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) and an Investment Adviser Certified Compliance Professional (IACCP) in our office as well. Additionally, all 12 members of the P&A team are Series 65 licensed. This is the Uniform Investment Advisers Law Examination required to discuss investment-related topics with clients. And even though we do not sell any insurance products, we have a licensed Insurance Consultant who can help you analyze any insurance policies and annuities you own.
Has anyone at your firm been cited for disciplinary reasons?
We are proud to report that none of the advisors or team members of Pittenger & Anderson have a disciplinary record with the SEC, FINRA, or any other financial regulatory body. To check the disciplinary history of any CFP®, visit the CFP Board of Standards website. To check the disciplinary history of any SEC-Registered Investment Advisor, visit the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website. To check the disciplinary history of a stockbroker or fee-based advisor, visit FINRA Broker Check.
Do you have a business continuity or succession plan?
Yes! Along with our two founders, we have five additional principals to meet our clients’ needs for decades to come. We discuss our next generation of leadership on the Our Story page.
Do you use an independent, third-party custodian to hold my investments?
Yes! Charles Schwab is our preferred custodian and 99% of our client assets call Schwab home. In addition to holding your cash and investments, Schwab executes trades we place for your account, sends you a monthly statement, and provides 24/7 online access to your accounts. All deposit checks to your account are made out to Charles Schwab & Co., not to Pittenger & Anderson.
Are you affiliated with a broker-dealer?
No, we are an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). Neither our firm nor our principals or staff have a vested interest in any investment company, broker-dealer, or other financial services organization.
Do you utilize or offer any proprietary funds?
No. We don’t like conflicts of interest.
What is your investing philosophy?
Here’s what we believe when it comes to investing:
- The right mindset is the most important skill an investor can have.
- Patience and discipline are more important than studying balance sheets and P/E ratios.
- Fear and greed are the investor’s enemy.
- Market timing doesn’t work; staying fully invested is the best approach.
- Long-term is the only term. Success is measured in years and decades.
- Minimizing investment costs through the use of index funds is key.
- Market volatility is a rebalancing opportunity.
- Broadly diversified portfolios deliver the best risk-adjusted returns over time.
How do you invest your own money?
At P&A, we invest our personal and retirement monies in the same stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs that we utilize for our clients. We eat our own cooking. When markets experience success, we enjoy the ride right alongside our clients. And when markets go through one of their inevitable setbacks, we feel the pain, too. This blog post goes into more detail.
What makes you different from other advisors?
Many people come to us with the same complaints about their current advisor. They:
- Question the fees they’re paying or some of the advice they’ve received.
- Aren’t getting phone calls/emails returned in a timely manner.
- Feel like their advisor talks down to them or dodges their questions.
- Are in the dark about how their account is performing or why it’s invested the way it is.
- Believe their advisor hasn’t taken the time to really understand what’s important to them.
We’ve built our business to alleviate these and other frustrations. The difference begins with our team. All of us come to work every day ready to go to bat for you whenever and wherever we can. Think of us as your financial bulldog. Since we aren’t paid by selling you investment products, our sole focus is helping you reach your goals and being there when you need us. You’ll like our friendliness, Midwestern work ethic, and responsiveness to your needs.
What does an initial meeting look like?
We start with a collaborative conversation to determine your goals and to see if we’re a good fit for each other. From here, we will move along at a pace that’s comfortable for you. If you’d like our thoughts on your current portfolio, you can either send us recent statements before our meeting or bring them with you. We will show you how much your investments are costing you, how diversified they are, and how we would do things differently.
Will I be working with one person or a team?
When you hire P&A, you hire our entire team. There are no silos here. While you may have a main point of contact (a lead advisor), other team members will also assist you over time. This ensures your questions are answered quickly and efficiently.
How often will you communicate with me?
Typically, you will hear from us a minimum of four times per year, after we have formally reviewed your accounts. This outreach also gives us an opportunity to address any financial questions or concerns you may have. Additional touchpoints occur around financial planning-related topics, tax law changes, and market developments. Whether you prefer in-person meetings, phone calls, emails, or video conferences, we will find a method and a frequency that works for you.
What do I need to know about changing advisors?
Here are a few noteworthy items:
- The account transfer is handled between your current custodian and Charles Schwab, our preferred custodian. You do not need to notify your current advisor of the change.
- The account type and its current custodian will determine how quickly it transfers over. Two weeks is about average.
- Your current advisor or their broker-dealer may charge you an account transfer fee. This can range from $50 per account to several hundred dollars. To help offset these expenses, we typically wait to begin billing your account until our strategies are fully in place.
- If you’d like to see an all-in cost comparison between where you are currently and how we plan to invest your money, please ask. We will do this automatically for retirement accounts.
Will I face a big tax bill if I transfer my accounts to you?
Existing IRA accounts can transfer without any tax ramifications as long as they are done trustee-to-trustee or as a direct rollover completed within 60 days. New tax laws limit the number of indirect rollovers that can be done in a 12-month period. After-tax investment accounts typically transfer in-kind, meaning if you own XYZ stock with a large gain, it will transfer over as-is. Certain illiquid or proprietary investments may not transfer in-kind and need to be liquidated. We will work with you to understand the tax posture of your existing accounts and your preferences before we begin the transfer process.
Can you provide client references?
Yes, we would be happy do so after receiving our clients’ permission.
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