These are questions to ask when evaluating a future relationship with a financial advisor. You can find our answers, below. You can also download a list of these questions to use as you evaluate other financial professionals.
Are you a Fiduciary, required to provide advice in my best interests at all times?
Yes. Morton Brown Family Wealth is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). This requires us to act in your best interest at all times. We do not have any brokerage business and do not earn commissions on trades. When we make an investment recommendation it is because we believe it is the best choice for your long-term success. Unfortunately, this is not the standard in our industry. Rather, many brokers are held to a “suitability standard”. As long as an investment is deemed suitable for you, brokers are free to charge high commissions.
What type of business is your firm?
Morton Brown Family Wealth is a professional partnership with no parent company or outside financial stakeholders. We are not owned by a bank or Wall Street corporation. Instead, we are accountable to our clients and our team. The RIA model is the fastest growing and most innovative space in the personal finance industry. Being independent, we are able to partner with established and entrepreneurial providers in order to bring the right resources to bear for our clients. For example, we have partnered with Charles Schwab Institutional as a third-party custodian to hold our clients’ assets. Schwab, the largest custodial firm, provides us access to a broad universe of investment options, which we can select based on their merits and cost. We are also able to combine a suite of financial technology that helps us to be better advisors and keep our clients informed.
WHAT ARE YOUR CREDENTIALS AND EXPERIENCE?
All of our financial advisors hold the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM designation, which is the leading credential for personal financial advisors. Completing the rigorous curriculum and comprehensive exam demonstrates expertise in investments, retirement, taxation, insurance, and estate planning. We have a combined forty years of experience advising clients in these areas. Beyond academic credentials, our firm focuses solely on providing personal financial advice to individuals and families. We believe that an advisor should have a concentration or area of expertise. For us, it is fostering confident financial decision making for the families we serve.
Who is your typical client?
There are two typical profiles of clients with whom we work best:
- The Accumulators: They have built a lifetime of wealth. They come to us with an array of financial assets. Typically, there is no unifying plan for their wealth. If married, one spouse usually has all of the information while the other is in the dark. They are seeking guidance because they are approaching an inflection point in their life where it is too important to risk making financial mistakes. Our job for these clients is to help organize, prioritize, and align their financial assets with a plan that we collaboratively develop.
- The Accelerators: They have achieved momentum in a closely held business or career. Their questions revolve around the best use of cash flow to fund obligations and seek opportunities. These clients want to understand their unique risks and how to manage them. They come to us having largely been neglected by skilled advisors but understand that their need for advice is growing each year. Our goal with these families is to build up wealth outside of the business, set priorities for saving and investing, and help protect the financial health of the family.
We work with a concentrated number of families due to the level of detail and focus required of our work. As we grow, our mission is to develop a team of talented professionals capable of servicing more families to our highest standards. Morton Brown currently serves 170 households with $250 million in assets under management.
How are you compensated?
We are a fee-based advisory firm. We earn no commissions for investment advice. Our asset-based clients for whom we manage investment portfolios pay a fee that is a percentage of assets under management. When our clients grow, we grow. Therefore, our incentives are aligned. We also have an advice-based platform that charges a flat monthly retainer fee. For certain clients, this often makes sense as their largest assets are sometimes illiquid. We are licensed insurance agents and when recommending insurance policies can be paid commissions, which are disclosed in advance.
How will we work together?
Our client relationships begins with a first-year experience during which the financial plan is created and implemented. We establish a rhythm of meetings and communication that fits each client’s needs. Regardless of our in-person meeting or phone call rhythm, an educational component is included in all that we do. We want clients to understand how our philosophies around investing and financial planning are put to work year after year for their benefit.
Each client is given access to a Wealth Management website tailored to them. They can view their financial plan, important documents, and planning tools to help them understand the impact of future financial decisions. Clients are also provided access to a personal portfolio site that both tracks their progress and monitors critical information about their investments.
A client’s team typically includes a lead advisor, financial planner, and administrative support to help devise the strategy and implement the plan. Because of our independence, we are also in a position to work with a client’s custodian (Schwab), accountant, attorney, and other trusted professionals to see tasks through to completion. Our advantage is that we are not restricted by a bank or corporate parent who may limit our ability to recommend professional resources who can help in various aspects of your financial life.
How do you integrate financial planning into our relationship?
Morton Brown Family Wealth is designed to put the financial planning process at the forefront of our client relationships. Our relationships are about more than just investing. They are about the optimal uses of wealth at each stage of life. These are the core tenets of our planning philosophy:
- Awareness: The knowledge of all that is unique to a family and its wealth
- Flexibility: The ability to adapt as life changes
- Confidence: The development of understanding and trust in the plan
Planning is an engaging process that lasts many years and brings money and life into balance. Read more about our Financial Planning Philosophy.
What is your investment philosophy?
Successful investing is simple, but not easy. The most important roles we play as investment managers are:
- Portfolio Manager: Orchestrating the balance between family goals and asset performance.
- Behavioral Coach: We seek to shrink the “behavioral gap” that results from investors making poor decisions at the highs and lows of the markets.
- Risk Manager: We define the unique risks of a family and craft an investment strategy that is personal for each client.
We want you to know what you own and why you own it. We prefer a lower cost, tax efficient strategy that seeks to control what we can control. Our investments are diversified among assets designed to provide growth, preservation, income, and opportunity. Read more about our Investing Philosophy.
Why should we choose Morton Brown Family Wealth?
The life you lead requires a healthy dose of curiosity and confidence. One that will aspire, strengthen, and encourage your life’s pursuits. Morton Brown fosters a community of clients and professionals who are curious about the world around them. We believe our role is to distill what is relevant for our clients to build knowledge of opportunity and risk. Whether deciding what retirement will look like or planning an entirely new second act, our unwavering dedication to serving the best interest of our clients ensures their ability to live life to the fullest. Our holistic approach to financial planning and investing allows families the freedom to dream, create, innovate, and pursue new passions.