Can you give us a preliminary analysis before we decide if we want to hire you?

I have heard several variations of this question. Unfortunately, it’s not something we can do because it would violate our fiduciary standard, specifically, the duty of care. Just like when you meet your physician for the first time, she won’t be giving you a prescription until after your initial history and physical are complete and the tests are all in. It’s the same with financial planners. We must complete an intake interview, understand your concerns, and look over your tax return, statements, and other documents you’ve provided. We might need to do some calculations and some further research before we can formulate our advice. Each client’s financial situation is unique, just like your doctor’s patients.

We have taken an oath to be diligent in Financial Planning. The CFP® Board describes the process, in part, with this diagram. Clearly, I cannot normally provide advice without completing steps 1-4. The lone exception to this requirement is my Financial Checkup offering which is only for clients whose need is limited to a single scope item such as investment strategy, debt management, college savings, etc.