Five Things You Don’t Want to Hear From Your Financial Planner


Retirement is just around the corner.  You think you’ve saved enough; but with the recent market drop, you are just not sure. Your retirement accounts have taken drastic blows and now you’re in doubt if you will ever retire. You decide it’s time to sit down with a Certified Financial PlannerTM to see if you are still on track for a successful retirement.  Here are the 5 things that you don’t want to hear:

1. You Will Have To Work Longer.

Unfortunately, this might be the reality of many hopeful soon to be retirees. If you have taken a substantial hit in your portfolio, and you hadn’t saved enough to fund your retirement needs, this may be a sad truth that you have to face.

With the rising cost of health care and increasing cost of goods, your nest egg may be depleted where your employment income is the only thing keeping your savings account from dwindling down even further. By working longer, it will allow you to do # 2…

2. You Need To Save More.

If retiring is not happening next week and you still have a few more working years ahead of you, now is the time to sock away as much as you possibly can afford.  What that might mean is eating out less, maybe putting off a vacation here or there, or not remodeling the living room that drastically needs it. All those extra savings will either go to funding retirement vehicles, which are your 401(k)’s or IRAs, or just putting it in your emergency/savings account. [Read more…]

7 Questions To Ask Your Financial Planner


Questions For Your Financial Planner

As the year rolls on, risk and credit are being repriced and financial markets remain in some turmoil.

In the last few client reviews I’ve had, the clients have all stated that they haven’t even looked at their statements.   If you find yourself in this situation and retirement is creeping around the corner, this is highly not suggested.

Now, more than ever, you need to be on top of your financial situation.  Your portfolio could be completely intact, but most likely there might be some opportunities to take advantage of.

When meeting with your financial planner, here are 7 questions you should ask to get a better sense of where the market dump has left you.

Updated: I recently did a follow post that addressed the #1 question you should ask a financial advisor before hiring them. Watch the video to hear what is.

1. What is my true financial situation?

Re-examine your investment goals, time horizon, risk tolerance and financial circumstances. Have any of these objectives or circumstances changed?

Have you added to your bond and money market investments during this volatile time? If so, will that more conservative investment mix still allow you to meet your long-term goals of saving for your children’s college education and funding a retirement income plan?

Allow your planner to assess your true financial situation by providing complete information on your current financial picture. Make sure to include not only your  investments held with them,  but other investments as well, including bank savings accounts. [Read more…]

Alliance Investment Planning Group is Moving

moving-day-at-alliance-investment-planning-groupToday is the big day for Alliance Investment Planning Group to move into our new building.  Yeah!  We’ve been anticipating this move for several months now, so we’re very excited for the big day to actually arrive.  Looks like mother nature is going to be nice to us and give us some sun just chilly weather (high of 36 degrees).  I’ll take it considering the single digit weather we had last week.

Special Gratitude

Special thanks to Jonathon and the boys at Reppert Publishing for helping us move our furniture today.  Don’t know what we would do without you.

Same Phone

To all that are curious we will still have the same phone number in place as we had at our own office.  Our new address is as follows:

115 S. Washington

Carbondale, IL  62901

It that’s not good enough, here are some directions compliments of Google Maps:

View Larger Map

Have a Happy New Year!

Financial Planning: Let’s Get Started


Ready, Set, Go!

Whenever I first talk to somebody that is interested in utilizing my services, I often get recurring questions into how the whole process works. 

Some of the most common questions are,

“How much is this going to cost?”  or “What can you do for me?” 

For those that have never sat down with a financial planner before, I wanted to share an example of how a first meeting might go.

First Financial Planning Meeting

First and foremost, I do not charge anything to meet with somebody for the first time.  The first meeting is solely an interview for both parties.   I’m interviewing you to see if you are a right candidate for my financial planning process.  You are also interviewing me to see if I’m the right man for the job.  A casual sit down face to face meeting will help both of us answer this question.

Information To Bring

Typically, I will talk to the potential client and instruct them on the type of materials that they would need to get together for our first meeting.  This would include:

  • brokerage statements
  • bank statements
  • retirement plan information (401k, 403b, TSP, IRA’s or pension info)
  • insurance information (Health, Life, Disability, Long Term Care)
  • social security benefit information
  • latest paycheck stub
  • will or trust documents, etc.

It never hurts to have too much information.  If feasible, I like to meet in my office, but a house visit is nothing out of the ordinary.  Actually, sometimes it’s nice to go to the home so that all the paperwork is already there and easily pulled from a file if it was initially forgotten.

Let’s Talk

The first part of the meeting is getting to know each other.  Kind of like an informal interview process to see if there is anything that I can bring to the table to better their situation.  It also works the other way in that they are interviewing me to make sure that I am the right guy to help out with their investments.  Hopefully, I make a good impression.  :) 

One of my best qualities is that I’m a naturally curious person.  I always like to find out what’s  “their story”.  Where did they come from?  Where have they worked? What do they do for fun?  What’s the best place they ever visited?  What was their first job?  It’s always interesting to find out what got that person to where they are today.

Down To Business

Then we’ll discuss their investment situation.  What’s working for them now?  Any investments that didn’t work out in the past? What do they like or dislike about their current situation? Have they ever worked with a financial planner in the past? This will ultimately lead into a discussion of what they need their investments to do for them: Fund their retirement goals. Buy a vacation home.  Pay for their daughter’s college, etc.

Crunching The Numbers

I will then take their investment information and head back to the office where I will input it into a tool to where I can analyze their portfolio to make sure they are maximizing their full potential.  Often times, people are not diversified enough or some of their current investments are lacking in performance. We will then schedule a second meeting to go over my recommendations to see where we might be able make some adjustments to put them in a better situation.

Overall, the first meeting is the most fun because I enjoy to meet new people.  I could listen for hours of people telling me all their life experiences.  That’s what makes starting the financial planning process such unique and enjoyable experience.

Building Your Dream Financial Plan

For those of you that have actually built your own home or been in the process of building your own home, you know the hours and hours it takes in the planning process. Most often or not, this is the home that you will either retire in or live a great majority of your life. Within the planning process you will scrutinize over your house plans and keep in constant contact with your contractor to make sure that your “Dream Home” is being built to your standard. And this is how it should be, because you will be in that home for a good portion of your life. What’s most puzzling in my profession is that people spend very little time planning for retirement.

Most Important: Vacation or Retirement?

In fact, I just read a study that said on average people spend more time planning their annual vacation than they do actually planning their retirement. Think about that for a second. What’s most important: Disney World or supporting yourself and family for 20-30 years? [Read more…]

Can You Trust Your Financial Planner?

Is Your Financial Planner a crook?

Is Your Financial Planner a crook?

Recently, I caught a story on the local news, a financial planner at out of my hometown, West Frankfort, Illinois, was arrested for violating that trust. He had been a financial advisor for many years and recently was just charged with financial exploitation of the elderly. In one instance, he had gone to one of his clients and was trying to sell her an annuity. She trusted her advisor and considered him a friend and wrote him a check. A check directly to him, not the insurance company, in the amount for $20,000 and then he disappeared. As it turns out, she was not the only client  that had been taken advantage of.

Financial Planner Violates Trust

When I see story like this, I’m angered because I love my profession, I love what I do, and I love earning my clients’ trust. But when you have individuals as such; that abuse that sacred trust with their client, it gives my profession a bad name. You may be wondering if this could happen to you.

What To Do If Your Financial Planner is Crooked

  • If the advisor asks you to write him a personal check, that is a clear red flag. Never, never, write out a check directly to the advisor. Especially, if you are purchasing some kind of investment product.
  • If you recently purchased something but never received anything in the mail, call your advisor and see if you can get a copy of the confirmation ticket.
  • If your advisor is guaranteeing an outrageous rate of return, be extremely cautious. I ran into a competitor that was guaranteeing 12% return on his mutual funds he was offering.

Background Checks On Your Advisor

Start by thoroughly researching any broker, financial planner, or adviser you are considering hiring. Explore the North American Securities Administrators Association Website,, or call 888-84-NASAA for a regulator in your state.

State regulators, along with the National Association of Securities Dealers, jointly maintain a database of more than 650,000 stockbrokers and 5,000 securities firms. Known as the CRD, or the Central Registration Depository, the database contains critical information, such as whether a broker has ever been sanctioned or fined for investor wrongdoing. To check CRD records, contact the NASD’s consumer hotline at 800-289-9999, or visit the regulatory arm of the NASD online at and use NASD’s “Broker Check” system.

What is a Certified Financial Planner

cfpIn this day and age, professionals are laden with the alphabet after their names.  My industry is no exception.  When I started my career with my previous firm, we immediately acquired the AAMS (Accredited Asset Managment Specialist) Designation.  While serving in Iraq, in my downtime I studied for the CRPC (CharteredRetirement Planning Consultant).  These are just two of several designations that I could attain if I had the time and patience to study for them.  But despite the two I had, and several I could get: the coveted marks I knew I had to have was the mark of the CFP®. [Read more…]