General Questions

Who can benefit most from working with Oak Wealth Advisors?

Oak Wealth Advisors takes pride in making a positive difference in the lives of our clients. We build long-term trusted relationships with our clients. Clients who communicate effectively, can articulate their goals and concerns, and are seeking ongoing objective investment management and financial planning advice are well served by Oak Wealth Advisors.

Who would not be a good client for Oak Wealth Advisors?

Oak Wealth Advisors invests clients’ money and provides comprehensive financial planning. Individuals who prefer to do their own investing and are only seeking investment recommendations would be better served by other firms. Similarly, individuals who are not interested in improving their financial planning will not maximize the value of working with Oak Wealth Advisors.

How do you charge for your services?

Oak Wealth Advisors typically charges a fee that is a fraction of one percent of the investments we manage for our clients. Our clients are the only source of our revenue. We never accept payments from investment firms or custodians for investing in their products nor do we accept fees from professionals for making referrals. For clients who are still early in the wealth accumulation phase of their lives and for clients for whom our financial planning services are the primary motivation for working with us, we charge our minimum fee which is $5,000 per year. Fees are billed quarterly.

Is there an investment minimum or income minimum to work with Oak Wealth Advisors?

There are no stated minimums or maximums in terms of income or wealth in order to work with Oak Wealth Advisors. Our clients have a broad range of incomes and wealth. If we feel that we can positively impact a family’s finances and investments, and they have the means to pay our fees, we are happy to initiate new relationships.

Do you work with clients who are outside the Chicago area?

Oak Wealth Advisors has its headquarters in Deerfield, IL, a northern suburb of Chicago. We currently work with clients all over the United States and have clients with residences in other countries as well. To date, we have assisted families in over 30 states. With respect to our special needs services, our depth of knowledge is significantly greater regarding Illinois matters than those in other states.

Do you have weekend or evening hours?

Oak Wealth Advisors is open for business during normal business hours. If client schedules require occasional meetings in the evening or on weekends, we do our best to accommodate our clients’ availability.

What professional credentials do the Oak Wealth Advisors financial advisors hold and what do they mean?

Oak Wealth Advisors’ client service professionals hold the following professional designations.

The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation is considered by most to be the key certification for investment professionals. It is a globally recognized, graduate-level investment credential. It requires the passing of three rigorous six-hour comprehensive exams that are given one exam at a time once a year, thus requiring a minimum of a three year commitment to exam taking. It also requires a minimum of four years of professional experience and adherence to a code of ethics and standards of professional conduct.

The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation is held by those who have passed the comprehensive multi-day exam covering a variety of accounting areas, have the requisite professional experience, complete annual continuing education requirements, and abide by a code of professional ethics. The CPA designation was established in 1896.

The Professional Financial Specialist (PFS) designation is held by financial professionals who are CPAs who practice financial planning and have specific experience, have the required education, and have met the examination requirements as established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification is held by financial planners who have completed extensive training and experience requirements, have passed a comprehensive exam, and abide by rigorous ethical standards. In addition, all CFP® certificants must complete annual continuing education requirements.

Why is it important for your financial advisor to have a fiduciary duty to their clients?

A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care. A fiduciary duty requires a financial advisor to place his/her client’s interests ahead of his/her own. Oak Wealth Advisors has a fiduciary duty to all of its clients. Most consumers incorrectly assume that all financial advisors have a fiduciary duty. The reality is that far less than half of the financial services industry operates under the fiduciary model of client service. CLICK HERE to read an article that Oak Wealth Advisors founder, Mike Walther, wrote for the CFA Institute’s member journal in support of having all financial advisors operate with a fiduciary duty to their clients which would minimize the conflicts of interest in the financial services industry.

How will I know if I am meeting my financial goals?

Oak Wealth Advisors meets frequently and communicates often with our clients. Our process of using consistent agendas for meetings assists in keeping the focus on the progress being made over time toward specific goals. Our investment performance reports show all results from the inception of our clients’ relationships with us to the end of the most recent quarter. We also track the growth of our clients’ wealth with Net Worth statements which are usually updated on an annual basis.

What kind of investment reporting will I receive if I hire Oak Wealth Advisors?

Oak Wealth Advisors produces comprehensive quarterly investment performance reports for its clients. These reports illustrate the investment performance of a client’s complete investment holdings as well as the performance of each individual account. Cash flows are presented as well as asset allocations. All information is presented net of all fees and expenses which allows clients to see their true investment performance. Recent studies suggest that less than 20% of investment advisors present their results after-fees. Advisors who do not report their investment returns net of all fees are artificially inflating their results. In addition to the investment performance reports produced by Oak Wealth Advisors, all clients receive independent monthly or quarterly statements from the financial institutions where their investments are held.

As a retiree, how much money can I withdraw from my accounts without running out?

Numerous studies have been published over the past decade regarding safe withdrawal rates. The consensus suggests that distributions ranging from 3% to 5% are usually safe. That being said, working with a trusted financial advisor and having the ability to adjust annual distributions may allow you to successfully withdraw an even larger percentage of your wealth in most years without running out of money. To date, no clients of Oak Wealth Advisors have run out of money or been required to significantly reduce their quality of life based on our distribution recommendations.

Do you receive referral or placement fees from investment firms, attorneys, accountants, or insurance agents?

Oak Wealth Advisors prides itself on independence and objectivity. We do not accept fees or gifts from any investment firms, attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, or other financial professionals. Our recommendations and investment implementation decisions are based solely on what we think is in our clients’ best interests. Our clients are our only source of revenue.

Special Needs Questions

How does Oak Wealth Advisors assist families with special needs members?

Most importantly, we provide peace of mind. We provide independent and objective advice based on decades of first-hand experiences and current client relationships in the special needs community. We provide advice and assistance that is applicable to the various stages of life. We coordinate services and implement the planning each family needs. We recommend attorneys and insurance professionals, as well as other professionals, agencies, and resources to families based on their needs. We then collaborate with them to implement the planning and review progress towards goals and opportunities for additional development. Clients are given electronic digests in which they document important details about their loved one with special needs and direct future care givers with respect to their hopes, needs, and goals for their family member with special needs.

How much money is necessary for my child with special needs to be financially secure?

No two individuals with special needs are identical nor are their financial needs. While some websites and advisors appear to have all the answers, we humbly admit that we are unable to calculate a specific number for an individual’s lifetime needs. However, we do work with families to build wealth to support their family member with special needs and coordinate their financial planning to maximize the special needs individual’s future well-being.

Will my child need a guardian?

Guardianship comes in several forms and is often the best way for a family to ensure the safety and financial security of their loved one with special needs. However, in some circumstances, the use of Powers of Attorney can be preferential to guardianship. Each individual’s abilities and needs must be evaluated in determining the appropriate level of intervention. Guardianship requires the individual to give up rights and freedoms; therefore, the decision to establish guardianship should not be taken lightly.

What is a special needs trust and do all families with special needs members need one?

Special needs trusts, or supplemental needs trusts as they are often called, are an important cornerstone to the financial planning for most individuals with special needs. Special needs trusts are established to hold assets for the benefit of an individual with special needs. The trusts serve multiple purposes. They provide protection for the individual with special needs from those who may try to take advantage of them financially and also protect them from creditors. In addition, they provide asset protection from future potential failed marriages. One of the most beneficial aspects of special needs trusts is that the assets held in the trust are not deemed to be owned by the special needs individual who is the beneficiary of the trust. Therefore, the special needs individual is likely to qualify for government financial aid and be eligible for a variety of programs that require Medicaid eligibility if all of their other financial resources are held in the special needs trust for their benefit. While not appropriate in every circumstance, special needs trusts will usually be included in the financial plan of an individual with special needs.

Is an ABLE Account a better alternative to a Special Needs Trust for my child with special needs?

ABLE Accounts are valuable tools in the financial planning for a child with special needs. They are a wonderful substitute for a College 529 Plan. They are also a quick and efficient solution for maintaining government benefit eligibility if a small gift or inheritance is received by the individual with special needs. However, both the annual contributions to ABLE Accounts and the maximum amounts that can be held in the accounts are limited while there are no financial limitations on Special Needs Trusts. It is unlikely that an ABLE Account alone would be sufficient to provide for the financial needs of a child with special needs. The ABLE Accounts provide tax-free growth and distributions and are easier to open than Special Needs Trusts that should be drafted by an attorney who has expertise in special needs planning. Used correctly, ABLE Accounts are complementary to Special Needs Trusts in the planning for an individual with special needs.

 

Contact us with your questions

Logo - Member of the Academy of Special Needs PlannersOak Wealth Advisors | Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners