Our Answers to Paladin Registry’s 27-Question Interview

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There are many “Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor” lists out there on the Internet. Although some of these questions may help some people discern which professional to sign up with, we prefer our ten questions as they cut to the heart of the matter. They have an obvious correct answer (“Yes”), an obvious incorrect answer (“No”), and any professional who tries to veil their answer behind marketing nuances without giving a clear yes or no can be counted as incorrect. Our ten questions should not be hard for an advisor to answer.

I was recently sent a document entitled “INTERVIEW QUESTIONS TO ASK A FINANCIAL ADVISOR: A publication of PaladinRegistry.com.”

Paladin Registry appears to be an advisor search tool. They say multiple times in all caps across their website that it is a “FREE Registry service.” When you read their Privacy Policy, you discover (emphasis added):

We may partner with a third party ad network to either display advertising on our web site or to manage our advertising on other sites. Our ad network partner uses cookies and web beacons to collect non-personally identifiable information about User activities on this web site and other web sites so we can provide targeted advertising based on User interests.

…Paladin collects personal information to provide Users with specialized services that contain relevant content. In addition, Paladin conducts research on investor and advisor demographics, interests, and behavior based on information that is voluntarily provided to Paladin.

…Paladin may provide the names, email addresses and telephone numbers of advisors who seek admittance to the Registry or want to advertise their services on a Paladin website to an affiliated company that produces referrals for financial advisors.

Re-Targeted advertising uses information collected from a User’s web browsing behavior such as the pages they have visited or the searches they have made. This information is then used to display ads.

In other words, Paladin Registry pays the bills by selling your personal information for advertising revenue. Rather than using a service like this which jeopardizes your privacy and shows you many questionable advisors, I recommend limiting your search to NAPFA professionals. National Association of Personal Financial Advisors professionals are held to the highest standard of fiduciary duty in the financial services industry. You can find a professional in your area by following the guide “How To Find A NAPFA-Registered Advisor In Your Area.”

Regardless of the usefulness of their questions or their website, I enjoy answering every set of advisor questions I find. To that end, here are my answers to the Paladin Registry’s 27-question Interview Questions:

Firm Information

1. What is the name or your firm?
2. When was your firm established?

Marotta Wealth Management (originally Marotta Asset Management) was founded in 2000 by David John Marotta. It was a rebirth of Marotta Money Management, a 1980s California-based financial planning firm that was co-founded by George and June Marotta and later sold in the late 1990s.

Combining art and science, Marotta Wealth Management has become known for its careful and analytical approach to investment management, financial planning, and wealth management alike. Each component of comprehensive wealth management is analyzed in depth before our practiced methodologies are accepted in the firm.

We then give away our researched methodologies as free advice via our articles. You can know what we do for our clients by reading our online guides for how you could do it yourself.

3. How many professionals work at your firm?

You can always view who currently works here on the Our Team page.

4. What is your relationship to the firm? Owner, Partner, Employee, Independent Contractor?

Our financial professionals are salaried employees as part of an ensemble team. For more on this, read “Q&A: Will You Be the Only Financial Planner Working with Me?

Licensing & Registration

5. What is your CRD number?

Marotta Wealth Management is CRD #115645. You can read our latest filing at SEC.gov here.

6. What securities licenses do you hold?
7. What insurance licenses do you hold?

Our traders are all licensed with Series 65. As Investopedia defines, “The Series 65 exam, known formally as the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination, covers laws, regulations, ethics, and various topics important to the role of a financial adviser.”

We do not sell insurance. Read “Where to Get a Second Opinion on Your Insurance Policy” for more information on this decision.

8. Are you registered to provide financial advice and ongoing services for fees?

We are a registered investment advisor. Our CRD number is 115645, and our SEC file number is 801-6284.

9. Do you acknowledge you are a fiduciary when you provide financial advice and ongoing services for fees?

Yes. We both acknowledge our role as a fiduciary and obligate ourselves even more by requiring that each of the Advisory Representatives of our firm subscribe to NAPFA’s Code of Ethics, among the highest standards in the financial services industry. As NAPFA members, we:

  • Always act in a fiduciary role–committing to client-centered relationships.
  • Are compensated directly by our clients, which eliminates many conflicts of interest.
  • Never receive compensation for recommending specific products or services.
  • Strive to comply with federal and state investment advisor regulations.
  • Have advanced education in the field.
  • Complete 60 hours of continuing education every two years.

10. Do you have any disclosures on your compliance record?
11. Do you have disclosures on a criminal record?

No and no.

Qualifications

12. What are your years of financial service experience?

As a firm, Marotta Wealth Management’s philosophy, experience, and wisdom has decades of experience as guided by David John Marotta. Combining art and science, Marotta Wealth Management has become known for its careful and analytical approach to investment management, financial planning, and wealth management alike. Each component of comprehensive wealth management is analyzed in depth before our practiced methodologies are accepted in the firm.

You can read more about this in “Q&A: What Experience Do You Have?

13. Do you have any college degrees?

Yes. You can read about the education background of each of our professionals on the Our Team page.

14. Do you hold any industry certifications or designations?
15. Do you belong to any industry associations?

We require each Investment Committee member to have, at a minimum, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) or Chartered Financial Analyst ® (CFA) designation, or other relevant high quality portfolio management credential.

Marotta Wealth Management also encourages all our advisory team to join the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). NAPFA advisors sign an oath promising to put their clients’ best interests first, provide full disclosure to clients of any conflicts of interest, and never receive commissions.

In addition to our listed registered NAPFA advisors, we require each of the Advisory Representatives of our firm to subscribe to NAPFA’s Code of Ethics, among the highest standards in the financial services industry. For more information about this designation see the NAPFA website.

You can read more about this in “Q&A: What Are Your Qualifications?

Scope of Current Business

16. How many clients do you currently provide advice and services to?
17. What are the assets under management or advisement?

You can find our latest numbers in ADV Part 1 Item 5.D and Item 5.F. Our latest June 2020 filing currently reports 289 clients, 7 employer-sponsored retirement plans, and 3 charitable organizations. This represents a total of $442.6 million under management as of our 2020 Regulatory filing.

Business Practices

18. Do you have a minimum asset requirement for your investment services?
19. Do you charge a minimum fee for your advice and services?

You can always see our latest fee schedule on the Our Fees page. Currently, we have three service levels. None of them have a minimum asset requirement. Both the “Comprehensive” and “Collaborative” service levels have a minimum fee while the “Do-It-Yourself” service level has no minimums. You can read more about this in our 2018 article “Everyone Deserves a Fiduciary Standard of Care (or Why We Have a Service Level with No Minimums Now).”

20. What are your methods of compensation? Fees, Commissions?

We are fee-only fiduciaries. Fee-only means that we have one fee that the client pays based on the amount of their investable assets. We are up front and straightforward with our bill. Each quarter in our quarterly reporting we include a clear, itemized receipt showing precisely what was deducted from each account and the total. This total represents all that we were paid.

21. Which company will have custody of my assets?

We strongly recommend that clients do not allow their financial advisor to have custody of their assets in anything but the limited ability to make trades on your behalf, move money between your accounts, and take out a fee. Marotta Wealth Management does not maintain custody of the assets we manage. Instead, client assets are housed at a qualified custodian. We often recommend Charles Schwab as the qualified custodian.

We are independently owned and operated and not affiliated with Schwab or any other custodian. Although we often recommend you use Schwab as your custodian, you will decide whether to do so and will open your account with Schwab by entering into an agreement directly with them. We do not open the account for you, although we may help you do so.

22. How frequently will we meet to review my results?

We adapt to the needs of our clients. Some clients love that their finances are outsourced so that they can get on with the parts of life that are more important to them without interruption. Other clients enjoy finally having someone as geeky as they are with whom they can talk about finances. Because of these and more wildly different personalities, there is no normal frequency.

Unless directed otherwise, it is our intention as part of our Regular Meeting service to reach out and initiate conversation either by email or phone at least once a quarter (90 days) if we haven’t heard from you. We also strive to have one in-person meeting for local clients or one scheduled conference call for out of town clients annually.

You can read more about this in “Q&A: How Often Do You Communicate with Clients?

23. Where will we meet to review my results? Your location, my location, both?

We adapt to the needs of our clients. Typically, we hold meetings either in our offices, at our clients’ houses (especially for those with mobility issues), or over conference calls (for those out of state).

24. What types of reports do you provide your clients? Brokerage statements, performance measurement reports, market environment reports?

As part of our service to clients, we provide you with quarterly reports showing information pertaining to your asset allocation, changes in your portfolio, performance summary by asset class, your portfolio value versus cumulative net investment, contributions and withdrawals by year, yearly performance summary by asset class, and information on our fee for that quarter. Included in that packet is typically a letter written by one of our investment professionals and a general quarterly report for market asset classes as a whole.

Services & Products

25. What financial advice and services do you provide to your clients for fees? Financial Planning, Investment Advice, Insurance Advice, Tax Advice, Legal Advice?

We offer comprehensive wealth management services. For a list of our current services, you can explore the Our Services page. For more information on our services, you can read, “Q&A: What Financial Planning Services Do You Offer?

26. What investment products do you sell for commissions?
27. What insurance products do you sell for commissions?

None. We do not sell products or accept commissions.

Photo by Jules Bss on Unsplash

Follow Megan Russell:

Chief Operating Officer, APMA®

Megan Russell has worked with Marotta Wealth Management most of her life. She loves to find ways to make the complexities of financial planning accessible to everyone. Her most popular post: The Complete Guide to Your Washing Machine