Here are some frequently asked questions that Scott gets. Don’t see your question here? Ask him directly!
What do you do anyway, Scott?
I help families reach their goals. There are many different ways people help families reach goals. I do it through the lens of financial planning, and try to help people get all the stuff in order that they may not want to deal with (investments, insurance, planning, etc.). I’ve spent countless hours looking at the markets and researching investments. I bring all of that to my clients, and explain it all in simple ways that relate to their specific goals.
How the heck do you get paid?
I get paid by something called a management fee. That means if you elect us to manage your assets, we charge a small percentage of the assets. Clients never pay me directly (you’ll never have to write me a check!). It’s an automatic fee that comes out per our management agreement and Fortress is regulated by the State. Unlike companies that charge commissions, you always know what it costs to work with us.
Does anyone at Fortress Planning Group have access to my money?
No. I have what is called discretionary authority. It means that I can make the necessary trades in your account to execute the investment plan, but I never have access to withdrawal money.
Where is my money held?
All client accounts are held by a qualified independent custodian, Schwab. Fortress Planning Group has selected this custodian because of its commitment to client service, low costs, and security and a dedication to operational efficiency.
Is Fortress Planning Group affiliated with Schwab?
No. Fortress Planning Group is not affiliated with Schwab, nor are we compensated by Schwab in any way through fees, commission, or incentives. In the spirit of full disclosure, our firm is supplied necessary software that allows our in-house portfolio management system to work efficiently and cleanly with Schwab’s back-office operations and trading desks. This software is available to all investment advisors.
What does it mean to be fee-only?
Let’s try an analogy: The health industry no longer allows doctors to get paid a commission for prescribing a certain drug to patients. This was a good change, because doctors were potentially prescribing drugs that were not in the patient’s best interest, simply to earn a commission. Did you know that the financial community still collects commissions for financial products that they sell? I think this should be cut out of our industry because Investment advisors are selling products that are not in the best interest of the customer, simply to earn a commission for selling the product. I am adamantly opposed to this practice in the financial industry, and I never collect commissions from any company. I only make suggestions that are in the best interest of the client. This is why my firm is a called a fee-only firm.
What does the CFP® after your name stand for?
I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, or a CFP®. The financial industry literally has an alphabet soup of letters that people can obtain after their names! The CFP® designation is the gold standard for comprehensive wealth managers. It means that I have taken post-Bachelor classes in the following areas: Financial Planning theory, Investment planning, Tax Planning, Retirement Planning, and Estate Planning. It also means that I passed a rigorous two-day, 10-hour exam and that I have at least three years of experience in the practice of financial planning. As a CFP, I also need to take continuing education classes to stay current and keep my licensure. See letsmakeaplan.org for more details.
What is a fiduciary?
In the investment industry, not everyone is created equal. Brokers do not need to act in your best interest. By contrast, a registered investment advisor is held to the fiduciary standard. This means that they HAVE to act in your best interest. My firm is a registered investment advisor and I am a fiduciary. Any recommendation that I make has to be in your best interest. Most folks think everyone is the financial industry is a fiduciary, but this is hardly the case.
Wait a minute, you were in sales for 15 years! Are you going to sell me?
I loved working sales because it meant that I got to be out among people, listening to them and problem-solving with them. That’s my goal in our relationship: problem-solving! I’m never going to try to sell you on anything, other than the fact that more things are possible than you might think. Because I don’t take commissions and I’m not tied to any one product or suite of products, the only thing determining our decisions is your best interest.
Why is the financial industry so confusing and intimidating for regular people?
Great question! That’s exactly where I started, too. I’ve discovered that in reality, it’s NOT that complicated. It’s made to seem complicated though, so that people will feel confused and helpless and can more easily be sold on things. Read more about this here.
Will you recommend “hot” stocks and funds to me?
No. But I will recommend investments based on sound science. I don’t have any special information about the stock market that isn’t widely available. I don’t have any secrets. I will share what I know to be true based on science and extensive research, and make recommendations based on those facts—not random opinions.
Where are you registered and can you serve people outside of those areas?
I am registered in Kentucky and Wisconsin, and yes, I can serve anyone in the United States. Once I reach five clients in a particular state, I register in that state. I divide my time between Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wisconsin and Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati, so I can meet in person with clients in those areas.
When you’re not helping people plan their financial future, what else do you like to do?
I’m an avid runner (running is partly responsible for my career change: read my story here), and I frequently do half-marathons. I also enjoy spending quality time with my wife and three daughters, podcasting (listen to me here), running an “All Pro Dad“ chapter at school and watching the Green Bay Packers win football games.