Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Fiduciary? Aren’t all advisors supposed to act like a Fiduciary?

A fiduciary has the highest ethical and legal obligation to put your interests first and ahead of their compensation and any other considerations. Not only do I believe this makes good business sense, it is also the law. I am a fiduciary which means I am registered as an RIA (not a broker). I'm also a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and this also requires that I'm a Fiduciary at all times by the CFP® Board

Out of 300,000+ advisers in the country, it is estimated that only 1.6% (about 5000) are 100% fiduciary and fee-only. This means they do not sell products or earn commissions; just a professional charge to the client for the services they render.

Tolsma Investments, LLC is in this small 1.6% national group. I feel that being a fiduciary is the highest ethical practice in this business, and I'm proud to be held to this standard. 

Tolsma Investments, LLC was formed explicitly to be independent, fee-only, fiduciary, and non-commissioned product sales that has only one objective: put client needs first and help them maximize their investments under our stewardship and guidance. 

Brief fiduciary video - click here.

Article about the Government DOL Fiduciary Law – click here.

What is the CFP® certification & why does it matter?

The CFP® designation, also known as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, is administered by the CFP® Board. (www.cfp.net). The following is copied directly from their site: 

The CFP® certification is a voluntary certification; no federal or state law or regulation requires financial planners to hold CFP® certification. It is recognized in the United States and a number of other countries for its (1) high standard of professional education; (2) stringent code of conduct and standards of practice; and (3) ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients.

To attain the right to use the CFP® marks, an individual must satisfactorily fulfill the following requirements:

  • Education – Complete an advanced college-level course of study addressing the financial planning subject areas that CFP Board’s studies have determined as necessary for the competent and professional delivery of financial planning services, and attain a Bachelor’s Degree from a regionally accredited United States college or university (or its equivalent from a foreign university). CFP Board’s financial planning subject areas include insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning;
  • Examination – Pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Examination. The examination includes case studies and client scenarios designed to test one’s ability to correctly diagnose financial planning issues and apply one’s knowledge of financial planning to real world circumstances;
  • Experience – Complete at least three years of full-time financial planning-related experience (or the equivalent, measured as 2,000 hours per year); and
  • Ethics – Agree to be bound by CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct, a set of documents outlining the ethical and practice standards for CFP® professionals.

Individuals who become certified must complete the following ongoing education and ethics requirements in order to maintain the right to continue to use the CFP® marks:

  • Continuing Education – Complete 30 hours of continuing education hours every two years, including two hours on the Code of Ethics and other parts of the Standards of Professional Conduct, to maintain competence and keep up with developments in the financial planning field; and
  • Ethics – Renew an agreement to be bound by the Standards of Professional Conduct. The Standards prominently require that CFP® professionals provide financial planning services at a fiduciary standard of care. This means CFP® professionals must provide financial planning services in the best interests of their clients.

More information on the CFP® Board Website – click here

Know your Advisor designation and why the CFP® matters click here.

How is your business model different?

I have built my model and services on the notion that clients truly should and do come first. I created a completely independent business that allows me to represent my clients, 100% of the time and from their side of the table. I have chosen not to sell a single product for commission; thus, showing clients I am free to recommend the best ideas for them without outside influence, quotas, or sales goals from financial firms. I am non-discretionary and clients are free to hold and invest their money at the firm of their choice. I have chosen to operate under the Fiduciary standard, the RIA registration, and CFP® certification. 

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I never would have built my own company if I thought clients were receiving all this value in the marketplace today. I feel most clients are not receiving the value that an independent, objective, and unbiased advisor can bring to them regarding their monies … thus I purposely formed my own company to provide it.

Where does my money reside under your services?

This is a very important question and a very important distinction from most firms in the advisory business.

I am non-discretionary and clients are free to hold and invest their money at the firm of their choice. This means that you get to decide where to hold your money and I never take possession or custody of any of your funds. This is a great protection to you as a client; your accounts are your accounts.

While clients can hold their funds where they desire, I suggest using an online discount broker to save on investment costs.

These firms may include Fidelity Investments, Vanguard Group, Charles Schwab, etc.

I am able to view, monitor, and advise on any of these platforms by using your client portal - click here for an example of how my technology simplifies this process. 

If I have worked with you in the past, can I still work with you?

Yes! If you were professionally served by me in the past in my prior role(s), you are free to proactively reach out and engage me. I welcome the outreach, relationship, and value I can still provide.

No change is necessary to your current accounts and financial institutions. They can stay the same. All advice and guidance on how you maximize those accounts may prove incredibly valuable to you. For example, I am an independent Fidelity and Vanguard expert and showcase to clients how to maximize their benefits at these firms.  

How much do your services cost?

I have priced my services with transparency and value at the heart of the offering. I believe everyone needs and deserves a financial plan and help with their investments; no matter how large or small their assets. I have built a few service levels so clients can decide which one is best for them, their budget, and needs.

Please see my prices page for more details.

(If you feel your needs don't fit either of those options, I have an hourly option that might work so please reach out). 

How do you handle customer service items with my accounts?

Clients come first in my business. In most cases, I can handle almost all customer service needs with an email, phone call, or scheduled appointment. However, some money movement, trading, and other needs are serviced by the financial firm that holds my client’s monies. In this case, I will leverage these firm’s customer service teams for the benefit of my clients with either a joint conference call, or I will give detailed instructions on who to call and what to say, which helps my clients save time and money. I’m an expert on most large asset management firms and can help you navigate their support teams efficiently.

How does your independence benefit me, as a client?

A key value for me in deciding if I should start my own advising firm was the idea that I could work more comprehensively with clients as an independent fiduciary. I feel I can serve clients better when there are no proprietary products I am required to sell, no sales targets to meet, and no management to answer to if clients choose one investment over the other. My focus really is on you, the client, and everything I do is built on this belief.

I do not sell my own proprietary investments, I do not accept any commissions, I have no monetary interests in any advice, guidance, or services offered to clients, and my only compensation is the single professional fee charged to clients. This effectively shows clients how much I’ve removed conflicts of interest from our strategy and planning discussions. Your best interest is my best interest.

I am free to recommend the best solution(s) from any provider available in the marketplace to maximize your benefit

I prefer to be self-directed. How do you add value to me?

All great athletes have a coach! I believe I can offer a lot of value. I have worked with many proclaimed self-directed investors and many of them find value from me in the areas including: education, coaching, strategy testing, tax management, and having a trusted partner who is 100% aligned with their interests and can provide resources as needed, with speed and efficiency.

I help clients leverage and maximize their brokerage custodian relationships with my industry and brokerage platform knowledge. There are many resources in this area that I can coach and provide value.  

What types of clients do you work with?

If you have a Fidelity Investments account, I can add tremendous value as a former planner in their private client group. If you work for a tech company or have stock award programs with your employer, I work very efficiently with this niche and help develop tax efficient strategies for high income earners. 

However, I work with all clients who value partnership, financial planning, and who enjoy the learning and education that I provide. I have built a model that is a fit for anyone who desires this type of partnership, or a second opinion on their current plan. I’m fee only, independent, objective, and am 100% on my client’s side of the table. I'm able to work with those with negative net worth who want to improve their lives, millionaires who need investment and tax coaching, and everyone in the middle. Everyone pays the same fee, and receives the same expertise. (clients’ needs will be different, but my skill set is equally aligned for all clients).

There are many clients who are priced out of the market of advice or not serviced well from institutions who only look to large investment clients for their revenue or product sales. I love working with my struggling clients just as much as my millionaire clients – they both bring me joy and satisfaction and the feeling that I’m doing good in the world.

How do you monitor my investments and financial plan?

I am aided by the use of cutting edge technology. I use eMoney Advisor for my business and client interactions. Clients receive their own personal financial website and both they, and I, can monitor, track, and update financial plans as often as needed. Access to eMoney (also called Personal Financial Website) is included in all pricing models and is a great value to clients.

See how your Personal Financial Website can help you – click here.

See how my process can help you achieve your financial goals – click here.

I don't have a lot of cash to invest. Can you still help me?

Yes

I work with clients who value partnership, financial planning, and who enjoy the learning and education that I provide. I’m fee only, independent, and objective. Thus, I'm able to work with those with negative net worth who want to improve their lives, millionaires who need investment and tax coaching, and everyone in the middle. Everyone pays the same fee, and receives the same expertise. 

There are many clients who are priced out of the market of advice or not serviced well from institutions who only look to large investment clients for their revenue or product sales. I love working with my struggling clients just as much as my millionaire clients – they both bring me joy and satisfaction and the feeling that I’m doing good in the world.

I hope this sets me apart from other advisers and there is no better time like the present to get started.

Still Have Questions?

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Tolsma Investments, LLC is a Washington registered investment advisor.

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