Approach Financial Planning is an independent financial planning practice in Montrose, CO. I meet with people throughout the U.S. via phone or secure video meetings. Regardless of your location, we can probably work together.
Important: Most of our discussions should be about you and the things it takes to make your life unfold the way you want. But you’re probably curious who you’ll be working with.
Justin Pritchard, CFP®, MBA, PPC®, RMA®
Whether you’re saving for a goal or setting up a plan for your business, I want you to feel confident that you’re in good hands. I don’t know everything about everything, and I rarely wear a suit, but I have been doing this for a long time, and some of my clients have been working with me for more than 10 years.
I hold the following industry designations:
- Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®): The so-called gold standard of financial planning requires extensive training, testing, and industry experience, as well as ongoing continuing education and ethics requirements. I took the exam back when it was on paper (over two grueling days), and roughly 54% of test-takers passed that year.
- Retirement Management Advisor® (RMA®): Based on academic research, this course of study focuses on developing customized retirement income plans. This is an advanced certification from the Investments and Wealth Institute.
- Professional Plan Consultant (PPC®): Best practices for serving employer-sponsored retirement plans and promoting successful retirement outcomes for participants.
I have worked as the in-house financial advisor at community credit unions on the Front Range, and I’ve been “the 401(k) guy” helping employees use their workplace retirement plans. I’ve conducted countless group presentations, webinars, and one-on-one meetings, all of which have led to long-lasting relationships with clients.
About: I was born and raised in Denver, CO, and attended college at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I majored in Spanish Literature and Language, and I was fortunate enough to supplement my studies with time exploring Colorado’s mountains. After college, I enjoyed a few years as a ski bum in Crested Butte, CO, and returned to central Denver to try out the real world.
My first job in the financial services industry was in 1999, working for Charles Schwab & Co. During that time, I started graduate school at the University of Colorado at Denver and joined a full-service financial advisory practice shortly after.
I worked in that practice with some great people for about 14 years. Eventually, my wife and I moved to Colorado’s Western Slope for easier access to outdoor experiences like skiing, hiking, and biking. At that point, it made sense to start my own firm, and that transition was a good move in multiple ways.
Justin Pritchard became a CFP® practitioner in 2010.
How We Work Together
Whether you want help with a business or your individual finances, we start with an informal discussion, typically at no cost. This is primarily for you to describe the topics you’d like help with. If I’m a good fit for your needs, I provide an overview of what I propose for your situation, and I tell you how much I will charge and how you pay. From there, it’s up to you.
I do not receive commissions, so you do not need to transfer assets in order to work with me. However, I can (and often do) handle investments. Billing falls into two general categories:
1. Hourly or flat fees: That option may be appealing if you:
- Only want financial planning advice, or you just have questions on a handful of topics
- Want to handle everything on your own after speaking with a professional
- Have assets that are unavailable or cost-prohibitive to move
- Want to get to know me better and prefer not to transfer accounts
2. Assets under management (AUM): This option allows you to hand off investment tasks:
- Determining appropriate investment strategies to help you work toward your goals
- Ongoing investment management
- Assistance with opening and managing accounts, typically with e-Signatures and electronic documents (unless your current providers don’t allow that)
At the beginning of a relationship, we typically meet or talk several times per month or quarter to get everything set up. Depending on the relationship, we might continue quarterly meetings indefinitely. Most investment clients only want annual reviews, with the ability to call me as-needed with questions or issues that arise in their lives (yes, you can do that).
Selected Media Mentions
I’ve been quoted in numerous places, including a few examples below.
- New York Times: You Bought the Thing, Now You Regret the Thing
- Consumer Reports: Money Moves to Survive a Coronavirus Recession
- Wall Street Journal (print and online): Buried in Student Debt? Here’s How to Play Catch-Up
- Huffington Post: Here’s How Much You Really Need To Save For Early Retirement
- MSN Money: 13 questions about investing that people ask the most
- Forbes: All The Ways Your Laziness Is Costing You
- US News and World Report: How to Get Your Portfolio Off to a Good Start for 2020
- Bankrate: Tax credits vs. tax deductions: What’s the difference?
- Money: A Beginner’s Guide to Weathering the Next Recession
- CNN: Changes Are Coming to Your Credit Score
- And many more
Can We Work Together if I Don’t Live in Colorado?
Yes! Most of my clients live outside of Montrose. If you’re comfortable working by phone, email, and secure virtual meetings, we can work together remotely. Please note that there may be limitations in certain states, and I need to follow any applicable regulations before signing an engagement with you.
How Much Do I Need to Invest With You?
I do not have an investment minimum. In fact, some people choose to hire me just for advice, and they never invest anything. Whether your money is locked away in inaccessible accounts, you have limited assets, or you prefer to handle investments yourself, we can still work together. The agreements are designed to include DIY investors who only want one-time financial advice or a second opinion.
Who Is an Ideal Client?
Pat is hoping to stop working within the next few years—possibly sooner, if possible. She has managed her finances independently, making smart decisions and putting herself on reasonably solid ground. Life has thrown a few curveballs, but she always adapts. Now, she wants a second set of eyes on things and a "sanity check" on what she's doing. Her main question: Do I have enough to retire, and how might things unfold?
With retirement just a few years away, Ava and Daniel are getting serious about their finances. They’re looking for a detailed analysis of how things might unfold, with projected cash flows, tax estimates, Social Security tips, any strategies they should consider, and more. They prefer not to manage their investments anymore, although they’ve done a fine job up to this point. Their main question: Are we going to be okay, and what changes should we consider?
Tara and Lisa have their finances under control, but they want to make sure they are on the right track for retirement. Because Tara is self-employed, they'll explore setting up a solo 401(k) for her business. Doing so could allow her to make sizable contributions. They'll manage the investments themselves for a while and decide whether or not they want more help. Their main question: How can we set money aside in ways that benefit us the most?
Maya is growing in her career and earning more each year. She wants ideas on where to put extra money each month and how to invest the funds. She could figure all of that out on her own, but at this point, she'd rather focus her time and energy elsewhere. Her main question: What are the next steps for me to take toward financial independence?
Ultimately, these people are primarily thinking about retirement (or financial independence).
Can You Steal All of My Money?
In a world of fraud and Ponzi schemes, it’s smart to be protective with your life savings. When clients hire me for “advice only,” I do not have any access to accounts, so there’s no way I can steal money from your savings. When clients have me manage assets for them, the money always goes directly to a major custodian (currently either Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.). I do not take possession or “custody” of your funds, so I am not able to divert the money to my own accounts. If you ever decide to stop working with me, you can remove my trading access from your accounts at any time without involving me.
The only time payments go to my firm is when you pay a previously agreed-upon fee (detailed in your client agreements), and you always receive an invoice and notification of those fees at the time of payment. I never get access to your credit card number or bank account information if you pay electronically. However, if you write a check, I am able to see your bank information (just like anybody else you give a check to).
How Fancy Is Your Office?
For the past 15 years, I’ve primarily worked at home, although I have meeting space available downtown. It’s nothing fancy, and in-person meetings are increasingly rare. Most of my clients live several hundred (or more) miles away.
Perhaps most importantly, I run a digital practice that uses technology to minimize clutter, protect client information, and work with remote clients (and local clients who don’t want to find parking):
- All documents are stored in encrypted storage, and any sensitive file transfers go through a secure vault or password-protected encryption.
- Any paper documents go to a dedicated offsite mailbox for the business. I scan and shred documents upon receipt.
- Virtual meetings use end-to-end encryption to protect your information.
Why Don’t You Have More Assets Under Management?
I’ve never been a big asset gatherer, and maybe I’m not a great salesperson. Unlike most firms in the industry, I’m intentionally keeping the business somewhat “small.” No judgment here, I’m just not trying to build an empire.
Current AUM levels are probably explained by at least two factors:
- Clients often hire me for advice without having me manage assets. Under those flat-fee (or “project”) engagements, any assets I provide guidance on are not included in AUM. Also, 401(k) plans I handle are excluded.
- For many years, I earned a surprisingly decent income as a writer, and I was not hungry to grow assets. Writing personal finance content for online outlets and financial firms enabled me earn as much as I needed while keeping a finger on the pulse of happenings in the financial world.
What Resources Do You Have Available?
I’m part of several professional groups, including the XY Planning Network and NAPFA. As a result, I have access to some of the best minds in financial planning and investment advice, and we constantly discuss industry topics. XYPN has over 1,000 members. Additionally, I’m part of several study groups where I can bounce ideas around with other skilled advisors.
I occasionally use a paraplanner who helps make the magic happen behind the scenes. She is a skilled professional with over six years of financial planning experience, and she holds the CFP® designation. I originally met her at a conference, she has a clean regulatory and criminal background, and she’s good at what she does.
Continuing education is always important, and here are just a few examples of recent accomplishments:
Certified Financial Therapist-Level I™ Professional Designation (CFT-I™). I do not practice financial therapy, but I am happy to collaborate with your licensed mental health professional if all parties consent and are able to work under that arrangement. This designation comes from the Financial Therapy Association.
Fundamentals of Sustainable and Impact Investing. A 5-module program from the US SIF (The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment) focusing on socially-responsible investing.
Morningstar ESG Foundations. A brief course featuring experts from Morningstar and Sustainalytics (a Morningstar subsidiary).
Ready to learn more? Send me an email to let me know what’s on your mind. We’ll discuss your needs and determine how to proceed.