Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is an RIA? RIA stands for Registered Investment Advisor and it is an investment firm that is “Independent”. By being independent, an RIA is not obligated to try to sell the products of their firm/ employer. Thus, an RIA has the freedom to find the best products to meet your needs. RIAs must adhere to a fiduciary standard of care as laid out in the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. This standard requires RIAs to act in the best interests of their clients. RIAs owe a fiduciary standard of care to their clients. This fiduciary standard of care is the highest standard within the investment industry. A Fiduciary is expected to be extremely loyal to the person he/she owes the duty, placing personal interests aside. This “Fiduciary Duty” that RIA firms legally have to their clients is a reason that many clients choose to work with RIAs.
2. What Services Does Alpern Wealth Management Offer? Financial Planning, Asset Investment Management, Retirement Planning, College Planning, and Estate Planning, and Life and Long Term Care Evaluation and Placement. Also, we can provide you with a one-time review of your investment strategy, help with budgeting.
3. What kind of Investments does Alpern Wealth Management offer? As an RIA, the investment universe is virtually unlimited; it is not limited to just one company or mutual fund group. As an RIA advisor, we have the freedom to find the investment products, or use an investment strategy, that is the best fit for each client.
4. How is Alpern Wealth Management compensated? We work on a fee basis when providing advisory services. For investment management, we typically charge a fee based on the dollar amount of assets managed. For financial planning, we work on a fixed fee. RIA firms are very transparent about fees and must disclose all of their sources of compensation. Refer to our Form ADV (hyperlink) for details.
5. How often do we meet with our advisor? We have clients who meet with us annually, and some who prefer to meet quarterly. We tailor our meeting schedule to your needs and desires. Most clients find that with our family portal and other updates, after a few meetings annual meetings are sufficient, enabling you to do the things you enjoy.
6. What is your investment philosophy? We believe in tax, cost, and risk-effective investments. Contact us to see how tax, cost, and risk effective your portfolio is.
7. What makes your Alpern Wealth Management different? We are a boutique wealth management firm, beholden to clients and no others. We intentionally choose to work with a small, special group of people (see below), enabling us to provide customized strategies and exceptional, high touch, client service
8. Are you part of an accounting firm? We were founded over a decade ago to serve the clients of an accounting firm, but that formal relationship no longer exists.
9. I don’t live near Pittsburgh but want to work with you - how does that work? We have many wonderful relationships with clients who don’t live in Pittsburgh. We use Skype, Webex, email, and the telephone to understand our clients and deliver the customized strategies and exceptional, high touch, client service you expect.
10. Do you have an account minimum? While we don’t have a fixed minimum to work with clients, we find the clients who have a few of the following attributes have reaped the greatest benefits:
a. $1 million of investable assets (either now or within a few years)
b. They want to keep income and estate taxes to a minimum
c. Think with their heads and hearts
d. They want to help protect assets from creditors, the IRS, and future daughter/son in laws
e. They have children and/or are philanthropically inclined
f. Are or were business owners, or senior corporate executives