Frequently Asked Questions

With so many firms competing in your market, how do you differentiate yourselves?

Our clients come to us with diverse financial issues and concerns.  We have observed that no matter the situation, all of our clients share a common desire to have their financial lives simplified and managed by a team of experts.

We have significant experience in managing both investment and insurance strategies.  Many planning opportunities are missed when these strategies are not coordinated. What sets us apart is our integrative approach.

We embrace and facilitate communication among our clients’ other trusted advisors such as attorneys, accountants and family members.  This collaborative approach helps alleviate the stress of making major financial decisions.

Our three partners have over fifty years of combined experience and have earned the most respected financial credentials.


How are you compensated?

Most new clients pay a flat financial planning fee at the start of our relationship.  This allows us to provide detailed objective advice without any obligation to work with us to implement investment or insurance strategies.

Once we have a deep understanding of our clients’ finances and they have had a chance to understand the value we bring, the conversation will naturally transition to the work we do in managing investment and insurance strategies.

Insurance products are always commission-based and the pricing is the same for any particular insurance product whether brokered through us or if purchased directly from an insurance company or another advisor.

We offer both fee-based and commission based investment strategies.  We educate our clients on the various platforms available and help them make well-informed decisions that suit their financial plan.

Many of our clients comment on how refreshingly open we are when it comes to discussing compensation.


What is your investment management philosophy?

Empirical evidence demonstrates that the dominant determinant of long-term, real-life investment returns is the behavior of the individual investor. (Source: http://www.dalbar.com 12/31/91 - 12/31/11)  During turbulent times in the market, many investors make irrational investment decisions driven by emotions.  Our clients rely on us to counsel them through times of market euphoria and panic when the most costly investment mistakes are often made.

All investment recommendations are rooted in the detailed financial planning work we perform at the beginning of any new client relationship.  We do not have any off-the-shelf products and we are not affiliated with any investment bank.  This allows us to select from a wide array of investment strategies to find appropriate solutions to help meet the long-term financial goals of our clients.  We place a strong emphasis on educating our clients about the investment options available to them.

Recognizing that there is no perfect portfolio, we strive to implement rational tax-aware investment strategies.  We believe in a disciplined approach to diversification that considers traditional and alternative asset classes; taxes, product features, time-horizon, fees, risk tolerance, and most importantly: the underlying financial plan of each client.


Do you communicate with your clients’ other advisors?

We embrace and facilitate communication among our clients’ other trusted advisors such as attorneys, accountants and family members.  This collaborative approach helps alleviate the stress of making major financial decisions.


What do your designations listed after your names mean?

Our clients rely on us to provide expert financial advice and we take education seriously.    We believe that our combined educational backgrounds and experience sets us apart from our competitors.

The following are brief descriptions of financial designations and licenses held by one or more of our partners:

All partners have earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation (CFP®).  This is the most widely recognized credential in our industry and requires significant expertise in all aspects of financial planning including estate planning, investment management, insurance planning and retirement planning.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).  Since it was first introduced in 1963, the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation, or CFA charter, has become the most respected and recognized investment credential in the world.  To become a charterholder, candidates must pass three six hour exams; have four years of qualified work experience and pledge to adhere to the CFA institute Code of Ethics and Standards of professional conduct.

The Accredited Estate Planner® (AEP®) designation is awarded by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils to recognize estate planning professionals who meet stringent requirements of experience, knowledge, education, professional reputation, and character.  It is a graduate level specialization available to professionals with recognized professional credentials within the various disciplines of estate planning such as attorneys, Certified Financial Planners®, Chartered Life Underwriters, Certified Public Accountants, Certified Trust and Financial Advisors, and Chartered Financial Consultants.

The Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) program prepares one to meet the advanced financial planning needs of individuals, professionals and small business owners.  Designation holders have an in-depth knowledge of the key financial planning disciplines, including investments, insurance, taxation, retirement income planning, charitable giving and estate planning.

Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) is the most respected designation relating to the financial, estate and business planning application of life insurance.  The course of study provides an in-depth knowledge on analyzing the life insurance needs of individuals, business owners and professional clients. It focuses on a wide range of solutions, including income replacement, estate planning, and wealth transfer.

The Certified Family Business Specialist (CFBS) designation is a graduate level program concentrated on needs of closely held or family owned enterprises.  The curriculum helps a practitioner better understand the unique challenges family businesses face regarding succession planning and business valuation in the context of estate and legacy planning.

The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license is granted to those that have passed the uniform CPA Examination managed by the AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) and have met the requirements of the state where the license is to be issued.

Certified in Long Term Care (CLTC) designation is focused on the field of long-term care planning and provides financial service professionals the critical tools necessary to address the subject matter with their middle-age clients.  The goal is to teach students how to create a plan that preserves the emotional, physical, and financial wellbeing of a client’s family should care be necessary.


Why should we trust you to manage our financial affairs?

Our firm is devoted to offering objective expert advice based on our clients’ specific needs.  As CERTIFED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professionals, not only do we adhere to a stringent code of ethics as required by the CFP® Board, but we are guided by a total commitment to honesty and integrity that is at the core of our mission and client service philosophy.

We believe our experience and combined educational backgrounds gives our clients a peace of mind knowing that they have a team of experts to guide them through their most important financial decisions.

Commonwealth Planning Group does not custody client assets.  All investment accounts are held with large well-known third party custodians and account statements come directly from these independent firm.  Our clients never write checks to Commonwealth Planning Group or to any individual partner.


How do you help your corporate clients with employee benefits?

The primary employee benefits we advise on are: traditional group insurance and retirement plan benefits as well as selective and/or voluntary benefits.

Our team of benefit specialists performs a complete audit of the existing plans at your company. Upon evaluation of the audit outcome, we will present creative solutions that best fit your needs. Our goal is ensure that you and your employees are deriving the maximum possible value from your benefits programs.


How do you help clients with their insurance strategies?

A well-designed risk management strategy is the foundation to a solid financial plan.  As part of our comprehensive planning process we evaluate our clients’ insurance needs and review existing policies.   We provide advice and brokerage services for life, disability and long-term care insurance.

Implementing insurance products into a financial plan can be a complex and time-consuming process. There are hundreds of different companies and types of products to select from in the marketplace. Beyond that, medical and financial underwriting requirements can also differ greatly.

We bring knowledge of the competitive landscape, relationships with the industry’s leading insurance companies and extensive underwriting experience. This combination places us in a strong position to effectively manage the execution of your plan.