Empowering Finance FAQs

Questions related to Empowering Finance:

What is so special about Empowering Finance and why us over the other guys?

To be straight up, you should interview several planners before making the decision to work with one. This is meant to be a long-term relationship with someone you trust, YOU find relatable, and who you enjoy spending time with. To be totally transparent, I set out to create a firm that will empower women in all finance-related areas, as we are the more underserved gender in financial planning and wealth management. However, some of my most favorite clients I have ever had the pleasure of working with have been men, so I of course welcome clients of all races, ethnicities, sexual identities, and orientations. If you can check the “I’m not an a-hole” box, then we’re golden.

It’s worth mentioning that we’re independent (meaning not required to sell you anything), fee-only (solely compensated by YOU and you alone, as in no paid Hawaii trips or commissions), don’t have an asset minimum requirement (I want to work with those who want to work with me and I don’t care if you have $5k or $5M), I am a CFP® professional, and I abide by the fiduciary standard.

I have spent over a decade in the finance industry and have worked my ass off to learn as much as I can to pull together what I think is the best of the best for my clients. I want to be the person you call or email whenever something financial comes your way. I also want to be the person you call or email when something exciting comes your way. Or even not so exciting! I am here for all of the twists and turns that life will deliver you. One of my most important roles is to be your cheerleader through this adventure called life.

If this sounds like the kind of financial planner you are looking for, shoot me an email or give me a call (or click the let’s chat button and I will call you).

Why do you need a financial planner?

You probably could do this yourself, but would it be the best use of your time? Would you enjoy spending your most precious resource (time) doing it? Would you keep up on everything on a regular basis and are you sure you are not missing something? This is my full-time job and what I spend all day doing and have been doing for quite some time. Let me handle the numbers so I can free your time up so you can pursue your passions.

Also, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you don’t always make the best decisions with your own money. Don’t believe me? According to DALBAR (a company which studies investor behavior and analyzes the data), the average equity fund investor earned a return of 5.19% versus the 9.85% the S&P 500 Index returned over a twenty year period ending 12/31/2015. Why is this? Because your behavior is often based on emotions and, I am sorry to say, oftentimes illogical. I help you reduce this gap, especially when markets are dipping and you feel the fear creep in. Give me a call and we will walk through your sound financial plan and I will keep you accountable to your goals and desires. Heads up, I will also become your friendly stalker to make sure you are checking things off your to-do list (but please always let me know if I annoy you, as I never want to cross that line).

What makes us qualified to do this?

I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, which is the highest designation one can get as a financial planner. The path to CFP® certification is not for the faint of heart; you have to work your ass off. The “4 E’s” of CFP® certification are Education, Exam, Experience, and Ethics.

The two-part education requirement includes both (1) completing coursework on financial planning through a CFP Board Registered Program, and (2) holding a bachelor’s degree or higher (in any discipline) from an accredited college or university. The average time it takes to complete the coursework requirement is 12-18 months.

The exam is BRUTAL. I took my exam in November of 2010 and the pass rate was 51%, I was the only WOMAN in the room taking the exam, and it took about two months for me to find out if I passed or not. You better believe my entire neighborhood heard my screams of JOY when I opened the passing letter!

Next up is experience. You have to have three years of professional experience related to the financial planning process before you can use the CFP® designation.

Last, but not least, is the ethics requirement. I must agree to adhere to high ethical and professional standards for the practice of financial planning and to act as a fiduciary when providing financial advice to my client–always putting their best interests first. I signed the Ethics Declaration and CFP Board conducted a background check before approving me. I also have to do 30 hours of continuing education every two years and two of these hours must be on ethics.

How do I get paid?

Empowering Finance is a fee-only firm, which means I only get paid by YOU, my client. I don’t receive commissions or kickbacks from any financial products or companies. I believe this to be the most conflict-free and transparent way to be paid in the industry.

I am a fiduciary, which means I put your interest first above all else. This means if I recommend a product or an investment to you, you know I am doing so because I think it’s in your best interest, not because I make anything from it.

Who is not a good fit for Empowering Finance?

Anyone who thinks you can beat the market, predict the future, or is a fun-killer, I am not the one for you. This is a partnership and I expect open communication, transparency, and honesty from all of my clients as you can expect the same from me. Simply put, if you are not willing to put in the effort and time, this relationship won’t work.

Also, I know that I am not a fit for everyone, but I will help you find someone who is a better fit for you. My time is my most valuable resource and I will only work with those I genuinely enjoy working and having fun with. Life is too short to live any other way!

Questions related to who we serve and what the heck we do:

Do I need to live in Portland, OR to work with you?

Nope! Empowering Finance is a location-independent firm, so I can work with you as long as you have the internet. In fact, I may be calling you from Maui or Bali one day and you can avoid rush hour or sit on your couch. However, my network of experts and fellow kickass financial planners is strongest in Portland, OR.

Do you have to have a ton of money saved up to work with me?

No way! This is one of the many reasons I decided to start my own firm. I want to work with those at various stages in life and if you don’t have loads of money saved up, that’s what I am here to help you with! As long as you can cover the monthly fee, you’re peachy keen.

What the hell is financial planning and what does it encompass?

Jeez Louise, just about anything and everything you can think of. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list of topics we will chat about, though the fun always comes from whatever you bring to the table!

Identifying Goals: Do you want to take an annual international vacation, retire early, work less, or maybe you just don’t know? We will work together to find your specific goals and how to attain them. 

Net Worth Analysis: Very few people know what their net worth is. I will pull together your financial balance sheet so you know where you stand. 

Cash Flow Planning: We compare what you earn with what you spend so we can determine what you are saving and how much you should be saving and/or investing. I can help you set up a system for saving that is automatic and makes it easy to stick to your plan.

Debt Management: If you have any debt, we can develop a payback strategy on how to best to pay it off.

Employee Benefits Optimization: Every year open enrollment rolls around and you can choose your 401(k) contributions, life insurance, employee stock purchase plans, legal services…the list is long. Let’s review your benefits to ensure you are leveraging your best options.

Investment Management: I will invest your accounts in low-cost, diversified portfolios to align with your financial objectives and determine asset location strategies to put your money to work for you. 

Investment Analysis: Are your accounts all over the place? I provide a high-level review of your entire portfolio as it exists today and will recommend how and where to consolidate everything to better meet your goals and get you organized. 

Insurance / Risk Management: It’s always best to be proactive here and plan for the unexpected expenses or situations. We will make sure you are adequately covered with insurance as it’s an important piece of your financial foundation.

College Funding: I can help you figure out the best funding and investment strategy to plan for these expenses. I also refuse to charge a fee on 529 plans as your kids need all the help they can get!

Estate Planning: I know talking about death isn’t pleasant for most, but having a plan in place ensures your legacy wishes unfold in the ways in which you desire. I can help identify needs in your existing estate plan and coordinate with your attorney to ensure that your estate plan works well with your overall financial plan.

Retirement Planning: Although retirement may seem far off (or maybe it isn’t), retirement planning cannot wait until you’re 60. I will input your net worth information, your current savings and spending numbers, and your future spending and savings goals into RightCapital (financial planning software) and will see what the projections tell us. We will review your plan annually to ensure you are on track and will adjust your plan accordingly if necessary.

Tax Strategies: Everyone’s favorite bill to pay, taxes! All jokes aside, it’s pretty cool to understand your taxes as it’s something everyone has to deal with, but very few take the time to understand how they interact with their overall financial picture. And if you don’t know how it all works, how can you minimize your tax bill? A knowledge of your tax situation will help guide strategy for investing, income, philanthropy, and more. I coordinate with your tax professional to make sure your tax decisions work well with the rest of your financial plan. Don’t have a tax professional or maybe you have one that you don’t love? I have a network of some pretty awesome ones that I would be more than happy to connect you with (and no I don’t get any type of referral fee, I just want the very best for you and your taxes).

I want to learn more, but I’m not sure Empowering Finance is a good fit. What’s the next step?

Totally understand as there are so many variables and this tends to be a big decision for most people. Let’s chat as there is no charge or any commitment to do so and this will give us a chance to get to know one another.