Frequently Asked Questions

 Frequently Asked Questions

 

 Which organization oversees and regulates your firm?

Charleston Financial Advisors, LLC is a Registered Investment Advisor Firm regulated by the State of South Carolina Securities Division.

To verify the firm’s status as a Registered Investment Advisor Firm, you may contact the SC Securities division at 803-734-9916. or follow this link to the Security and Exchange Commission’s Website here: www.sec.gov (The Securities & Exchange Commission Website)  Click the link to “Check out brokers & advisors” (under Investor Information), then “Research Investment Advisor Firms”. The following page will allow you to do an "Investment Advisor Search", from here you can type in the firm name (Charleston Financial Advisors, LLC) or search by CRD #137536 or by SEC Registration # 801-65932. With the results you can follow the links to the firm form ADV filed with the SEC and view the firm registration status.

Additionally, information regarding the firm and the individuals providing investment advise can be found at FINRA Broker Check.

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 What do these financial industry designations mean?

You can perform a search of your advisors designations and learn more about those designations and what they mean through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority here:The FINRA Designations Search Page 

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 How do I verify the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP ®) designation?

To verify the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP ®) designation, visit the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Board of Standards website

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 How do I verify your status as a Fee-Only financial planner?

We are members of both NAPFA (National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) and the Garrett Planning Network.  Both organizations have strict business and ethical standards for its members in addition to allowing ONLY those planners who accept no commissions from the sale of insurance or investment products.  To verify membership status as a NAPFA member, visit NAPFA’s website and click the link to “Find a NAPFA Registered Advisor”, then search Charleston, SC area.  Verify membership with the Garrett Planning Network and click on the State of South Carolina. 

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 What type of authority will Charleston Financial Advisors, LLC have over my accounts?

Once you have agreed to Investemnt Managemnet services and excuted the appropriate documets, Charleston Financial Adviors, LLC will have the authority to:

  • Make transactions in your Schwab or TD Ameritrade account in order to allocate your investments according to your financial plan and the Investment Policy Statement created for you;
  • Request a check be sent directly to you, or a transfer be made to a like named account. No funds can be withdrawn or likewise transferred out in any other name except for your own. For example, Schwab will not send a check to “John Doe” at our request, but they will send one to you at our request.
  • Deduct management and investment advisory fees from your accounts per our Wealth Advisory Services Agreement Fee Schedule. Account debits in excess of the normal or usual investment advisory fees (noted in our form ADV which is on file with Schwab and TD Ameritrade) are not allowed. Schwab and TD Ameritrade both have safeguards in place to prevent excessive investment advisory fee debits from being processed.
  • View online, monitor and maintain, and discuss your accounts directly with you

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 Are your fees deductible?

IRS Code Section 212 states that investment advisory and financial planning fees incurred may be deductible as miscellaneous itemized expenses to the extent that they exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income. Other miscellaneous itemized deductions which fall into the same category are fees paid for a safe deposit box, estate planning fees, tax preparation fees, attorney and legal fees, and more. So the short answer is fees paid for wealth advisory services may be deductible and we encourage our clients to ask their accountant or CPA about the deductibility of fees.

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 Can you take my money?

Your portfolio will be custodied at Charles Schwab Institutional or TD Ameritrade Institutional. Both custodians have implemented safeguards to protect you and your financial assets. For example:

  • Any money leaving your account will only be sent by the custodian directly to your address of record and in your name. Your address cannot be changed without your written consent, and the Institutional Service Team verifies your signature matches the one they have on file for such a request;
  • Any money transferred out of your account (with the exception of the firm’s investment management fees) may only be transferred into an account with the exact same registration. For example, an account in the name of John and Jane Doe may only transfer to another account in the exact name of John and Jane Doe; 
  • Both custodians retain on file a copy of the Firm’s most current Form ADV. Attempts to debit your account for investment management fees substantially in excess of the norm are immediately flagged as an excessive percentage of your portfolio and validated with an appropriate reason only (in the case of client fees for several accounts being taken from one account for example).

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 Is my information safe with your Firm?

The Firm uses security policies, physical security measures, and security technology that are the best practices for financial firms. While no guarantees can be made in the current day and age of cyber hackers and other criminals, we have consulted with leading computer and physical security experts. We continue to update our security practices as new threats emerge. We are very concerned with computer security and take this matter very seriously. For example, the Firm shreds all client documents using a cross cut high capacity shredder and tests our security measures on a regular basis.

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 Is my information confidential?

Yes. By law we cannot disclose your private information to anyone but you directly, or your other financial advisors (attorneys, accountants, estate planners) with your consent only. Our client’s information is highly confidential and we take this matter very seriously.

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 Do you guarantee returns?

No. We absolutely do not guarantee returns whatsoever. Rather we put together solid and focused financial and retirement plans for our clients designed to help them achieve their goals. Financial and investment planning is more of an art than it is a science, and we cannot predict the future nor guarantee returns in any form.

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 Can I speak to some references?

Absolutely! we work diligently for all of the Firm's clients and as such, the overwhelming majority of them are happy to provide a reference regarding the Firm’s services. While not every client chooses to provide a reference (some clients wish to maintain their privacy), you can contact us directly, and we will be happy to contact Firm clients for permission to pass along their names and contact numbers to you.

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 Do you hold my money directly?

Absolutely not. We will not take possession of cash or securities in any form.  We encourage clients to send deposits via our office: we will forward deposits to our custodians, tracking their progress.  Alternately, we will provide you postage paid envelopes to forward cash and/or securities directly to your custodian, and of course provide you detailed instructions on the safest manner for doing so.

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 Is my money safe at Charles Schwab and/or TD Ameritrade? Both Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade are members of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), the assets you custody with Schwab are insured by SIPC up to $500,000 for each separate account including up to $100,000 in cash.  Such insurance DOES NOT protect your investment principal from market fluctuation or volatility; however it does provide an amount of protection in the event of your custodian going out of business.

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 Are your fees competitive to other providers? Firm fees are not only competitive, they’re a great value for the service provided and value added to your financial and investment planning! We’ve been told by several prospective clients who have interviewed several financial advisors that our fees are at the worst competitive with other advisors – and at the best 20% to 30% less!We’re happy to provide you an apple to apples comparison of the fees you’re paying (or the proposed fees you’ll pay another advisor) and our fees. Our fees are simple to understand and reasonable. Most importantly, we believe in FULL DISCLOSURE – so we never hide or bury our fees like other brokers or “financial advisors” who are commission or "fee-based" (not Fee-Only!).

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 Do you have a minimum portfolio size?

There are no minimum asset requirements for financial planning Clients.  However, asset management Clients are encouraged to have $250,000 under management because transaction costs may be burdensome in achieving an adequately diversified portfolio.  There is a minimum asset management fee of $1,000 annually.

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 Can you provide advice related to my retirement plan at work?

Yes, as part of the financial and investment planning process we help to ensure your investment assets, both through work related retirement plans and separately held at the directed custodian, will work in concert together. 

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