How do prospective clients find you?
Most of our clients come to us through referrals from current clients, local attorneys, accountants and other professionals. We prefer to work with a client who has been referred, as that person has heard about us firsthand from someone they trust and respect. We have deliberately chosen to build our client base gradually and with discipline, taking the time to determine whether we are the right fit for a prospective client before embarking on a long-term relationship.
What is your first step in working with clients?
First we work with you to develop a financial plan. Typically this takes three face-to-face meetings and analysis by our team in the interim. Once we are in agreement that the basics of your plan accurately reflect your situation, we will walk you through a number of what-if scenarios. This stage is often the "ah ha" moment for our clients. It allows you to take a step back from your current circumstances, and imagine your future in light of various paths you might take.
Together, we map out the ways in which your plan can be realized. This is often an ideal time to include other advisors such as your attorney or accountant to discuss considerations such as real estate, trust or tax impacts.
After giving you sufficient time to reflect and ask questions about our recommendations, and upon your approval, we will begin implementing your plan. Life is dynamic, and your financial plan must be responsive to that. As we move through the client relationship, your plan acts as a touchstone; we revisit it as needed, typically at least twice a year. The plan provides the context that is essential to making complex financial decisions.
What is the next step after the plan?
With a well-honed plan in place, we then decide upon a strategy to manage your investments to best work toward your short and long term goals. Thomson Financial Management has access to an independent research team, connecting us to a wide variety of investments platforms such as mutual funds, ETFs, separately managed accounts, bonds, stocks, alternative investments, annuities and more. This diversity is very advantageous in choosing the best vehicles for you.
What about my existing investments?
For many clients, existing investments are one of the primary engines that drive the plan. We will conduct a thorough assessment of your investments to determine whether they align with your financial philosophy, risk tolerance and goals. Beyond the investments themselves, it is also important to make sure that they are being managed toward your goals.
As part of this process, we will call your attention to areas of potential risk that you may not be aware of. In some cases it may be prudent to discuss strategies to limit risk. While we are not attorneys or accountants, our expertise, advanced education and advisory experience are resources that can help guide you in your decision making.
Additionally, and at your discretion, we can consult with your accountant, attorney and other professionals involved in your planning process. These individuals can be a vital part of the discussion surrounding not just risk, but your entire financial plan. By taking a team approach to your financial well-being, we can be certain that we are in sync with any existing strategies in place.
How does the ongoing relationship work?
We prefer to meet with our clients at least twice a year in person. At the start of each calendar year, we will review and update your plan with you. We make certain to set aside the time necessary to thoroughly review your goals, resources and strategy. In the fall we review your investment mix, revisit the plan and its goals, and discuss tax planning with you. These meetings generally take about one to two hours each.
This is not a rigid schedule – if something happens in your life that requires a major revision to your plan, we will respond immediately. Throughout the year we will be in touch via email, telephone and postal mail. We have an open door policy at our office, where clients know that they are welcome to stop by or contact us at any time. Our relationship with the community extends beyond business; we often invite artists to share our walls and host client events in support of cultural endeavors.
How do you measure performance?
We measure performance in three ways. Initially, we determine whether the construction of the portfolio meets a client’s investment objectives and risk tolerance. Then we measure the returns generated by the portfolio against peer groups and market benchmarks over several calendar quarters. The goal is to have the portfolio meet or exceed peer group and market metrics. Finally, we assess the portfolio’s risk-adjusted returns by evaluating the level of risk, based on historical performance, in relation to the returns. These three measures are applied to each investment chosen for a client, as well as the portfolio’s constellation of investments in total.
How are you compensated?
We are compensated for our work in three ways:
Hourly basis. When we create the initial financial plan we are paid on an hourly basis. It typically takes six to ten hours to complete a plan, although some plans with complex estate issues can take longer. During our initial meeting we will provide a project estimate cost. When the plan is complete we provide written documentation and an invoice. If we become your investment manager, we will review and revise your plan as often as necessary, at no additional cost.
Asset management fee. The majority of our clients prefer an annual asset management fee, as do we. The fee basis is more straightforward by nature, allows more flexibility, and ensures that we sit on the same side of the table as our clients. The annual fee differs for each client based on the size of the assets entrusted to our management.
Commissions. On occasion, there may be commission-based investments that we believe can be valuable components to a client's portfolio, such as certain annuities or College 529 plans. In these cases, we clearly explain whether you will pay a commission or an ongoing fee when we establish the account. Our compensation is either a commission or an annual fee, never both.
What happens if I want to move my investments?
The Thomson Financial Management team emphasizes internal communication as part of our philosophy. We understand how important it is that you have confidence in our services. If something were to happen to any one person on our team, there would be no disruption in the quality or timeliness of your service.
I am interested in considering your services. What is the next step?
We offer a complimentary initial meeting where we will discuss your needs and determine whether we are a good fit. Please call us at 413-585-0030 to arrange an appointment at our office. The only initial requirement is that your asset base meets the minimum level outlined above.
Does Thomson Financial Management require a minimum investment amount?
Yes, we have a minimum asset management size of $1,000,000. This allows us to deliver the attention and care that clients have a right to expect. Typically, our advisory investment relationships range between $1,000,000 to several millions of dollars under our management. Investment minimums may be waived at the discretion of Thomson Financial Management. Advisory services and asset management are offered through First Allied Securities, a Registered Investment Advisor.