Personal Financial Planning Tips Greensboro NC

This week's article is a biggie, but I guarantee it'll be worth a few minutes of your time. If you're looking for help with your financial planning decisions, there are a number of resources in Greensboro you can turn to.

Dennis Stearns
Stearns Financial Services Group, Inc.
(800) 881-7374
324 W. Wendover Avenue, Suite 204
Greensboro, NC
Retirement Planning & Distribution Rules, Ongoing Investment Management, High Net Worth Client Needs, Planning Issues for Business Owners, Estate & Generational Planning Issues, College/Education Planning
NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor, CFP®, ChFc, MSFS

Gregory Yahn
Yahn Financial Planning
(336) 478-2363
7800 Airport Center Drive, Suite 401
Greensboro, NC
Middle Income Client Needs, Investment Advice without Ongoing Management, Helping Clients Identify & Achieve Goals, Retirement Planning & Distribution Rules
NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor, CFP®, MBA

Mr. Wallace R. Johnson Iii, CFP®
(336) 458-1050
300 N Greene St
Greensboro, NC
Diversified Trust Company

Data Provided by:
Ms. Bonnie Scull Cienek, CFP®
(336) 230-0071
333 N Greene St Ste 506
Greensboro, NC
Triad Financial Advisors, Inc.

Data Provided by:
Mr. William T. Heintzelman, CFP®
(336) 294-1811
3515 W Market St Ste 100
Greensboro, NC
LPL Financial
Areas of Specialization
Comprehensive Financial Planning, Education Planning, Insurance Planning, Investment Management, Long-Term Care, Retirement Income Management, Retirement Planning
Key Considerations
Average Net Worth: $500,001 - $1,000,000

Average Income: $100,001 - $250,000

Profession: Business Executives

Data Provided by:
M.James McKee
Stearns Financial Services Group, Inc.
(800) 881-7374
324 W. Wendover Avenue, Suite 204
Greensboro, NC
Ongoing Investment Management, High Net Worth Client Needs, Retirement Planning & Distribution Rules
NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor, CFA, CFP®, ChFc, CLU, CPA, MBA

Mr. R. Sherwood Greer, CFP®
(336) 272-5680
328 E. Market Street
Greensboro, NC
Oak Ridge Wealth Management

Data Provided by:
Mr. Daniel T. Billings, CFP®
(336) 275-0314
226 S Elm St Ste B
Greensboro, NC
Southeast Financial Services, Inc
Areas of Specialization
Asset Allocation, Budget Development, Comprehensive Financial Planning, Estate Planning, Retirement Planning

Data Provided by:
Mr. Matthew A. Stratton, CFP®
(336) 510-5430
333 N Greene St Ste 400
Greensboro, NC
Northwestern Mutual

Data Provided by:
Mr. Bradley A. Peete, CFP®
(336) 510-5400
333 N Greene St
Greensboro, NC
Northwestern Mutual Financial
Areas of Specialization
Retirement Planning
Key Considerations
Average Net Worth: $1,000,001 - $5,000,000

Average Income: $250,001 - $500,000

Profession: Business Executives

Data Provided by:
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Personal Financial Planning Tips

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Getting Financial Advice - Your Options Explained

Author: Ray Prince

If you're looking for help with your financial planning decisions, there are a number of resources you can turn to:

- the internet / media

- friends and family

- your own knowledge

Ideally, it's likely that you'll want impartial formation upon which you can make objective decisions. Whilst these three resources can be utilised, they may not 'do the job' as you'll be hard pressed to get an objective view with no emotion (which often runs high when making financial decisions) attached.

The alternative is to seek advice from a financial professional.

The advantage with this route is that, ideally, they will be able to take an objective stance. The problem with this route is that there are so many different types of financial adviser/planner to choose from.

How will you know if you are dealing with someone that is 100% impartial, or a slick salesperson who's focus is to sell you what they have?

Let's look at the options available to you and also the steps you can take to find the right type of adviser/planner (from the 45,000 or so registered individuals authorised to provide advice) for your circumstances. The first step is to determine what type of service you require.

Do you simply need someone to help you choose the right income protection plan, or do you need someone to help you create a 'financial roadmap' for the rest of your life, so that you'll be able to see how your future will look until age 90/100?

The Financial Product Retailer

If you have an idea of the type of product you need, then this may be for you. The 'service proposition' from an adviser that offers this service will probably be to uncover exactly what you need and then to match the need with a financial product. It's possible that the advice provided will focus only on the areas that you wish to discuss. For example, if you want some form of life assurance to cover a mortgage/debt, your retirement income requirements may not be discussed at all.

Whether you end up with the best product available on the market will probably depend upon the type of adviser that you are dealing with.

A Tied Adviser is one that only offers the products from ONE financial institution. They represent the institution, not you (this point is crucial).

A Multi-Tied Adviser offers the products from a few providers.

Obviously, as they have more choice to offer you this is a better option that dealing with a Tied Adviser. The downside is that you can never be certain that the product being recommended is the most suitable as they don't have access to all the providers in the marketplace. Like the Tied Adviser, they represent the institution, not you.

An Independent Adviser (also referred to as whole of market) is able to choose from the majority of providers in the marketplace.

So if all you require is income protection, they'll be able to select the plan that is most suitable for you.

You'll notice that I say, 'majority of providers'. This is because certain providers, such as banks, will not usually offer their products through whole of market advisers. Crucially, an Independent Adviser is the agent of the client, not any institution.

Paying for Advice

It's important to understand that the majority of the financial services industry operates on commission. So, when you purchase a product the institution will make a payment to the advising firm (not normally to the individual adviser).

I believe there's nothing inherently wrong with the commission system as such, especially when it can be used to help individuals purchase certain financial products. However, commission has been blamed for some of the past mis-selling scandals so one cannot ignore the scepticism.

After all, how can you guarantee that the product being recommended is the most suitable for YOU, and has not been selected based on how much commission is being paid to the adviser?

If you want to increase your chances of being recommended the right product, I believe you should only deal with an Independent, Whole of Market Adviser. Why would you take any chances by dealing with a Tied or Multi-Tied Adviser? It has nothing to do with how competent the adviser may be. It's really about the range of products that they can choose from to help you purchase the most suitable one.

A good Independent Adviser should be open enough with you to show you the actual research that they've done so you can see why they are recommending certain providers.

Regarding commission, the majority of providers pay a similar amount of commission within each product category. Doubts have sometimes arisen where an adviser recommends one product category over another. For example, an investment bond may pay up to 8% commission on the original investment, whereas a unit trust would usually pay a maximum of 3% initial commission.

I believe the solution is very straightforward (and fair). When a client invests new money, the same commission should be charged regardless of product category. This should remove any question of bias.

Whichever type of adviser you deal with, don't allow them to fool you that they are paid a salary and don't earn their money via commission. If they do earn a salary, they will have sales targets to meet. In fact, I recently met with a friend that works for a bank and he told me that he had to sell enough products to validate his salary 7 fold! Not an environment I'd like to work in...

You should also ask the adviser whether you can pay for the arrangement of the financial product by paying them a fee.

If they agree to this, and subsequently don't take a commission from the provider, you should benefit by:

- for investments, more of your money should be invested

- for protection, the monthly cost of the plan may reduce

Of course, it will make sense to calculate which route is the most cost effective. Now let's look at the other type of service.

The Comprehensive Financial Planner

An adviser that offers this service will normally (but not always, so beware!) operate a financial planning process that is aimed at helping the client achieve their most important goals in life. The process may include:

- what goals are important to you that you want to achieve?

- what action are you taking to achieve these?

- are you on track?

- if yes, can you reduce the amount of risk you are taking?

- if yes, can you spend more money without affecting your current or future lifestyle?

- if no, can you invest more money/increase the amount of risk that you're willing to take?

Their service proposition is NOT about retailing financial products, although they will usually help clients buy the right ones if required. Often, additional financial products are NOT needed.

I would suggest that you choose to work with someone who is willing to work WITH you to create your own Financial Plan.

You will have a great deal of involvement in creating your plan, so be prepared to engage in the process throughout.

So, how should you pay for such a service?

I am of the opinion that you should pay a fee. By doing so, the financial planner will be remunerated regardless of the outcome. As a consequence, they should have no vested interest in the solutions they devise for you. Of course, there's no way of guaranteeing this, but I'm sure it will increase the chances of receiving a 100% impartial service.

How much you'll pay will depend upon the adviser and their firm.

I've come across a whole range of figures and ways of charging.


There really is an 'alphabet soup' of qualifications that any type of adviser could possess. Let me cover the ones that I feel are the most important:

- the Certificate in Financial Planning, the basic qualification required to work as a regulated financial adviser

- the Diploma in Financial Planning develops advanced technical knowledge and understanding across a broad range of key advisory areas

- the Certified Financial Planner licence, an advanced qualification, being an internationally recognised certification awarded to individuals who have already proven their technical competency by passing appropriate examinations to the level of DipPFS (see point 2 above) or equivalent, but who then are tested specifically on their Financial Planning skills to become CFP professionals.

It's important to be aware that the type of qualification the adviser has is separate to their service proposition and whether they are tied, multi-tied or whole of market. For example, it's perfectly possible for a tied adviser to be qualified to Chartered Financial Planner level.

Action Point

The find an adviser here are some resources:

- ask a colleague/friend for a personal recommendation

- search online

- visit IFA Promotion's 'Find an Adviser' online search tool at

- search for a Certified Financial Planner at

About the Author:

Ray Prince is an Independent Financial Planner with Rutherford Wilkinson ltd, and helps UK Resident Doctors and Dentists get the best deals on mortgages, protection and investments, as well as helping them achieve their financial objectives. Just visit to get your free retirement planning guide. Rutherford Wilkinson ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

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