QuickStart: Ask a Financial Advisor Online

Media outlets that feature Justin Pritchard, CFP, a fee-only financial advisor in Colorado

The QuickStart meeting allows you to ask questions to a fee-only financial advisor online. You pay for advice and information, and you are not required to transfer assets, invest money, or buy any products.

With this arrangement, my only goal is to provide helpful information. You’re paying a fee to get answers—not for a product or service—so there’s no pushy sales pitch or “product of the day.” As a flat-fee financial advice offering, I don’t have any reason to hold back information or steer you toward certain solutions.

Highlights: One-Time Advice

This is truly a one-time financial advice solution. If you’re hesitant to turn your life savings over to somebody, you can still get professional guidance.

  • Fiduciary advice: I’m required to put your interests first.
  • No investment required: If you prefer to do it all yourself, that’s great.
  • Discuss non-investment topics: Want to talk about your loan choices, insurance, retirement planning, or other topics? No problem! But retirement planning and investing are my primary areas of focus.
  • Get investment reviews and advice: I can review what you’re currently doing and share my opinion along with any pointers that come to mind.
  • Specific investment recommendations: I can provide an investment model using index funds or ETFs for you to implement yourself (including ticker symbols for Fidelity, Schwab, or Vanguard). In other words, this can be financial advice for DIY investors.
  • Get a second opinion: If you want to confirm that you’re on the right path, get a second opinion on the financial strategies you’re considering or your DIY investment approach.
  • Available nationwide (mostly): Although I’m in Colorado, most states allow us to work together (Louisiana is an exception).
  • Financial advice only: This is a way to get guidance without hiring an asset manager.

What to Expect

Not everybody needs an in-depth financial plan right now. This is an excellent solution if you have a pressing issue or just want a second opinion on something.

  • An 80-minute phone or video call devoted to your questions and your situation.
  • You can upload documents securely before the meeting so I can access everything quickly during our call.
  • Ask your questions and voice your concerns. If I know the answers or can find them during our time, I’ll tell you.
  • I occasionally glance at the documents you provide beforehand, but do not count on that.
  • I do not prepare reports or conduct any analysis outside of our time together.
  • We can do back-of-the-napkin math or some basic spreadsheet work during the meeting.
  • Fully online process, including signing the agreement and payment by credit card or bank draft.

Important: Unfortunately, I might not know the answer to every question, or I can’t complete a sufficient analysis during a brief one-time engagement. If that happens, you’re welcome to engage at a deeper level (I currently have a multi-hour minimum) or explore other ways to work with me. It’s best to tell me what you want to talk about before you sign up so that I can tell you if this is a good fit.

Payment Details

  • You pay $685 before the meeting.
  • Payment is typically by credit card or bank draft, although checks may be allowed in rare cases.

How to Get Started

Let’s have a short discussion to help me understand your needs. Start by scheduling an introductory call. The best way to do that is to send a message to Info@ApproachFP.com. Please don’t include any confidential or sensitive information in your message.

Who Should Not Sign Up

It’s okay if we’re not a perfect fit—somebody else may be better for you. Please don’t waste your time with me if any of the following apply:

  • You want to invest your 401(k) or IRA savings in real estate that you own or manage.
  • You want a detailed analysis of individual stocks or bonds. Generally, I’m not a fan of individual holdings, although I realize you may be stuck with some legacy holdings that we may need to deal with (and I might be able to provide ideas on that).
  • You want a detailed retirement income plan that projects specifically how your investments, Social Security, taxes, pension, and other resources work together and might unfold year-by-year. Please consider my one-time or ongoing services instead. I can’t pull that off in 80 minutes.
  • You want ongoing access to an hourly financial planner (see below on working together after the meeting).
  • You want a “comprehensive” financial plan.

$685 Just to Talk? That Seems Expensive!

Perhaps, although it depends on how you define “expensive.” Consider some of the alternatives available. This isn’t to criticize other advisors, but rather to encourage an informed decision.

Some advisors might give advice that you don’t pay a fee for, but you pay commissions instead. Let’s assume you’re starting with something as small as an annual IRA contribution of $7,000. With the standard 5.75% upfront sales charge on loaded funds, you’re paying $402.50 upfront, and the broker’s firm gets an additional 0.25% per year indefinitely (in addition to other internal fund costs—please see a prospectus). Plus, they might only recommend products that pay commissions, ignoring the broader universe of options available.

More importantly, you might want advice that goes beyond which investment to buy.

Some financial planners want a bigger commitment than a one-time meeting. That’s understandable, as there are only 24 hours in a day, and they might not be able to accommodate small engagements. Planners often want you to sign up for annual or monthly payments that amount to thousands of dollars per year, and they may prefer to go in-depth on every possible topic (instead of just answering focused questions). Meanwhile, some advisors require you to transfer assets for them to invest, with potential tax consequences and an average advisory fee of roughly 1% per year (and they might have asset minimums). Again, no judgment—every advisor gets to design their own offerings, and there are certainly people who want what they’re offering.

When you don’t need investment management services, your $685 might buy you more clarity on when you can retire and how that might look. That might be all you need to make some decisions, or it might help you find the right path if you want to do additional research and calculations on your own.

Ultimately, I hope that the value you get out of this meeting—over the coming years—exceeds the price. But I can’t guarantee anything, so you’ll have to decide what’s best.

Potential Drawbacks

  • Again, I might not know all of the answers to your questions or be able to find them during the meeting.
  • Sometimes the most creative ideas come after I think about things for a while and explore. One-time engagements don’t lend themselves to those “Aha!” moments.
  • I don’t implement things for you—you’re on your own to complete any tasks, although I do my best to coach you, and sometimes we work through everything together online.
  • What might seem like a simple question can require digging into numerous areas. That takes time, and may require information that’s not immediately available. In those cases, we do our best, and I coach you on what to ask, look for, and think about as you move forward.
  • Remember that this is a one-time meeting only. Clarification or follow up questions are not included, so be sure to clarify everything during the 80 minutes.
  • There may be other pitfalls as well.

All that said, clients generally walk away with more clarity than they started with, they say the experience has been valuable, and I feel good about the guidance I provide.

I Don’t Know What Questions to Ask

You don’t need to know all of the right questions. You’re probably looking for advice because you have hopes, challenges, or goals—but it’s not clear how to get there. I will most likely have clarifying questions that help us understand the possibilities available to you (as well as your preferences).

Is This Just a Trick to Get Investment Clients?

No. This is an option for DIYers or anybody else who has questions. Over the years, a small percentage of people who used this service became investment management clients. Some people use it to “kick the tires” and see what it’s like to work with me. But the majority—by far—do not (and will never) hire me for investment management. That’s perfectly fine.

Can We Keep Working Together After the Meeting?

The QuickStart is designed to be a one-time offering only. But there are exceptions.

  1. A small percentage of people decide to have me manage investments. However, most QuickStart clients are DIY investors and they do not want investment management.
  2. It may be possible to add one full hour within 30 days of your QuickStart meeting, if necessary. Again, this is rare. But if we run out of time or you want to ask clarification questions, it might be an option.

As far as checking back in every 6, 12, or 18 months, I don’t make any promises. As of now, the answer is yes, clients are able to do followup meetings. But that might not be the case forever.

The best I can say is this: Consider the meeting a one-time thing. I believe you’ll walk away with more clarity on retirement and investing. But if an ongoing hourly relationship is the highest priority, it might be wise to keep looking.

More Information

Not ready to talk yet? Get your two free guides on retirement and conservative investing. You’ll also get a series of educational emails (with an easy, one-click unsubscribe) from this page. That way, we can stay in touch, and you can decide if I’m the right fit for you.