Ready to work with Summit? Here’s How It Works
Becoming a client of ours is pretty easy but we need to make sure we’re on the same page. While you could just get started right now robo-investing, many people prefer to work with a human advisor. Some of the nuances and goals you may have can be lost on a computer but another human will pick up on them.
Here is our seven step on-boarding process to make sure the financial plan we create for you fits your needs. Seven steps might seem like a lot but it goes quickly and most of them require very little work on your part; we just like to keep the different steps clearly delineated.
STEP 1: Initial Discussion
First things first, we need to understand a little about you. This meeting can be either by phone or in person, the goal being a basic understanding of your family, work, goals and concerns. You can reach out to schedule this discussion at any time.
Expect us to ask a lot of questions but we don’t need detailed answers just yet.
General information and rough numbers are what we’re looking for at this point so we have a decent handle on what your needs and expectations are. We will also answer any questions you have so far and explain the services that we provide.
STEP 2: Information Gathering
At the end of this first meeting, we’ll ask you to complete a Confidential Financial Survey. The Financial Survey asks for detailed information about your financial situation. It is done securely online and includes information on your income and expenses, assets and liabilities, and a gamut of other aspects of your current financial situation.
You should prepare a little bit before filling out the survey since we’ll need reasonably accurate numbers to analyze.
We do not ask for or need any personal identifiers such as Social Security numbers or bank/brokerage account numbers, though. As Joe Friday would say, “Just the facts.” The information you provide will allow us to create a “snapshot” of your current financial situation.
There’s also a very subjective part to this step. Besides the numbers in the financial survey, we also need to understand how you view the risk inherent in investing. Investing offers the potential for both gains and losses. Everybody has a different “risk tolerance” as we call it and we need to understand yours to develop a plan that will let you sleep at night.
STEP 3: Information Analysis
Once we have all your information, we begin our review process. Looking through everything, we search for your financial strengths and weaknesses. This stage sometimes requires a bit of back and forth, usually by phone or email, to make sure we have a correct, complete understanding of your finances. When it’s ready, we will provide you with a copy of the financial review.
STEP 4: Discussion of Your Finances
At this point, we will go through the review with you, in person or by phone. Areas that need attention will be highlighted and we will discuss our thoughts on the likelihood of you reaching your financial goals. It is during this conversation that we will review your risk tolerance which relates to the amount of market risk, such as the volatility, or market ups and downs, an investor can emotionally tolerate before running for the exit (liquidating their portfolio and moving into cash or cash equivalent investments).
It’s very important that we’re all on the same page by the end of this step.
This is the groundwork from which we will begin working. A misunderstanding at this point could result in a plan being formulated that doesn’t actually meet your needs. Don’t worry, we’ve done this many times and know what we’re doing. It’s important for our clients to take this stage seriously and not view it as just an in-between step that can be glossed over.
STEP 5: The Investment Plan
Once we all agree where you currently are and where you want to be financially, the next step is to formulate an investment plan to help you reach your goals. We’ll create an actual, written plan for you which will be emailed over. We’ll arrange a phone call or meeting to review the plan and path forward. If necessary, adjustments can be made before the plan is put into action.
STEP 6: Paperwork…
Boring but necessary. After reviewing your investment plan but before putting it into action, there’s some paperwork that needs to be completed. We’ll email you the forms to be filled out and instructions on how to open your account with a custodian (the third party that holds your money).
STEP 7: Implementation of Your Plan
After your account has been opened and funded, all that remains is to make the investments. Congratulations, you’re now taking control of achieving your financial goals!
Your portfolio(s) and statements will be available for your review 24/7 via the custodian’s website as well as your own individual investment portal. Your portal affords you the ability to aggregate all your outside accounts into our reporting system.
A Final Note
All meetings are no cost and no obligation. We are completely fee based and, as a Registered Investment Adviser, we are legally obligated to always act in your best interest.