FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
» Will you work with my existing estate planning attorney, CPA, stockbroker, insurance agent, or other advisors?
A: One of the things we will do when comparing alternative approaches to solving a problem is a thorough discussion of the fees, loads, charges, or expenses of any alternative strategy. After that, associates in our St. George office are capable of providing various services that may be appropriate in the implementation of your plan. This is all discussed-disclosed in the Client Engagement Letter in a section titled “Conflicts of Interest.” In summary, it states that you will be, at all times, completely free to follow or disregard, wholly or partially, any advice given by us, and completely free to select any person or firms to implement that advice. If you do choose to use our firm to implement any recommendations, we may receive the normal compensation on that implementation.
A: We do not provide legal, accounting, or tax return preparation services. However, (for example) if you do not already have an estate planning attorney, we may recommend several in the St. George area. We do not receive a referral fee or any other compensation from any other CPA or attorney to whom we might refer our clients.
A: We feel completely comfortable in working with any other advisors you might currently have, whether in Utah or another state. Just inform us who they are during the data-gathering interview.
A: There are associates in our St. George office that are licensed to provide various products and services (tools) that may be appropriate in the implementation of your financial plan. They have the following tools available to them:
- Over-funded indexed life insurance
- Fixed and indexed annuities
- Medicare supplement insurance
- Portfolio management services using professional money managers and/or no-load mutual funds, variable annuities*
- Traditional, universal, or term life insurance
- Health insurance (important for those retiring prior to Age 65 when Medicare starts)
- Disability income insurance (for pre-retirees)
- Trust deed investments (promissory notes receivable that are secured by real estate)
- Other investment vehicles of various types
*Only available through licensed associates who are Investment Advisor representatives of an RIA firm. The RIA firm is not affiliated with Consultus and portfolio management is not a service of Consultus. Consultus does not receive any compensation for these services.
These are available through dozens of investment companies and insurance companies through which our Utah associates are able to “shop the market” for the above products and services. They include many of the largest and strongest financial institutions in the world. Clients often ask us to assist in these areas for our investment and tax-planning expertise. Frequently, they also ask us to assist in these areas so they can consolidate and simplify, know their assets are titled properly for asset-protection (creditor protection) purposes, and are integrated properly with their estate plan.
A: All of our associates are required to obtain the minimal training necessary for various Utah (and other states in which our associates do business) licenses, which is what most “financial planners” hold. In addition, our associates:
- Almost all hold a degree in business to understand the basic business-financial concepts.
- Are required to undergo an extensive multi-year apprenticeship working side-by-side with Senior Associates on dozens of client engagements. This ensures they have participated in hundreds of client meetings: they have heard the questions, know the answers, have prepared the materials, and made the presentations that solve the problems.
- Participate in a weekly formal classroom training session that systematically covers over 200 topics (4-5 years to cover all topics).
- Are required to pursue and obtain their Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) professional designation. (The ChFC® is awarded by the accredited American College, and requires the same six courses as required for the CFP designation, plus two additional courses.)
- Each year, are required to attend week-long, advanced-level courses and conferences held in Utah and at various locations across America. These conferences cover topics such as ethics, latest tax updates, investment management, estate planning topics, many business planning topics, retirement planning, practice management, customer service, etc.
A: We invest tens of thousands of dollars annually into the following:
Few financial consulting firms in St. George make available to their associates and clients such extensive resources. It is our network of offices that provide us with ability to do so.
A: Our Associates in St. George, and all of our offices, are held to legal standards of practice and required to complete a minimum number of Continuing Education hours in ethics each licensing term. However, neither the legislature nor governmental agencies can regulate ethics very well. It takes more than that. To answer this question, please see our Mission Statement, and our firm’s slogan, which govern all we do. For over 30 years, we have dealt honorably with our clients' money. If we were ever to have an associate cut corners in the areas of honesty and integrity, our hard-earned reputation would be ruined. For more about our feelings on this, see Your Complete Guide to Money Happiness, pages 195-197. We believe there are also sound business reasons to operate an honest and ethical company. These include the following points:
- Our client’s success is our company’s future. If we expect to be in business for the long-term, we must do what is best for our clients and make recommendations that will stand up to the strictest scrutiny, and the test-of-time.
- Sound business dictates that we take a long-term view for our clients and for our business. It is far, far more expensive to cultivate a new client relationship than to maintain an existing client relationship. This is accomplished when we have a satisfied client over the long-term, a client that has lived with our recommendations, and watched them bear fruit.
- Fortunately, our firm is in a position where we do not need anyone’s business, no matter how large the client’s estate. There is no amount of money that takes precedence over doing what is right for our client, even if it means pursuing an unpopular path.
- This is best seen when we make recommendations that run contrary to what people perceive are our own economic interests and that may be justified by “popular financial planning wisdom,” but that we philosophically believe is right. For example, people are often surprised when we might recommend they take dollars out of their investment assets to pay off their mortgage instead of investing them through us.
- Consultus is a Member of the Better Business Bureau of Utah. Individual associates of the firm in Utah are members in good standing with their respective licensing authorities and professional associations, each of which enforce a strict code of ethics.
- As one client said in October, 2006: “If anyone wants to know the truth about you, they need to talk to your clients.” And as another client said in September 2007: “Let’s get this done. We've decided you’ve passed the Bill O’Reilly Test.” To which we replied, “Oh? What's that?” The client’s response: "By the things you’ve recommended, we know you’re looking out for us.”