Question #1

1. Please tell me about the financial planning process.

Financial planning is a process, not an event. This multi-step process provides you with two important benefits: a) an in-depth review of your current financial situation, and b) a roadmap that shows you how to achieve your goals and objectives for the future.


We use a highly interactive seven-step structured approach to produce your unique plan. These seven steps are as follows:


Step 1: Initial Inquiry


After reviewing the information on this website, call us at 908-580-0255 or email us at info@oaktreefinancialplanning.com for a no-obligation Get Acquainted Meeting either in person or by phone. Then, download and complete the Confidential Questionnaire (Click on the Client Forms button on the top navigation bar.)


Completing this Confidential Questionnaire helps you pull together all of your financial information into one place - an important first step.


Step 2: Get Acquainted Meeting


This is an opportunity for us to exchange information about your needs and objectives and to discuss which of our services are right for you. You can ask to review a sample client plan, and request further information on our professional credentials and experience. Finally, we will provide you with a written Engagement Letter that outlines how we will help you and the related estimated cost.


Our fees are determined on an hourly or project basis, depending on the scope and complexity of your situation and the work you would like done. We will always provide you with an accurate estimate of the cost of our services before you begin working with us.


If you decide to engage our services, we will give you a list of additional information that we will need to begin formulating your financial plan. A deposit of the lesser of $500 or 1/2 of the lower end of the estimated fee range is due at the time of the engagement along with a signed Engagement Letter.


Step 3: Date Gathering and Initial Preparation


You will be asked to gather financial data and in some cases complete a cash flow worksheet and risk tolerance questionnaire. When we receive your information, we begin to review and develop your financial plan.


Step 4: Interactive Goal Setting Meeting


We discuss the information you have provided us so far. This meeting may or may not be necessary and can be done in person or by phone. This is another opportunity to clarify your current situation and further refine your financial goals and objectives.


Step 5: Analysis and Plan Formulation


We analyze the information provided and perform any required research needed to prepare your financial plan. We produce the final report including observations, assumptions, specific recommendations and a detailed action plan based on your unique situation.


Step 6: Presentation of Your Financial Plan


Your customized financial plan is designed to meet your goals and provide you with financial peace of mind. During the presentation meeting we will review all aspects of the plan with you, making sure that you fully understand the recommendation and instructions for implementation. In most cases you will receive a written summary of our specific recommendations. Full payment for actual fees incurred is due at the conclusion of this meeting.


Step 7: Plan Implementation and Follow-Up


Taking prompt action to implement your plan is crucial to reaching your financial goals. Your plan has been designed to allow you to carry it out without the need of incurring the cost of ongoing professional fees. However we will gladly answer any questions you may have and refer you to other professionals for any additional assistance you require.


Once we finish your project, there are no further obligations to work together in the future. We recommend periodic update meetings and reviews to adjust your financial plan for life event changes and to rebalance your investment portfolio to your target asset allocation. We can schedule these follow-up meetings whenever you think they are appropriate.


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Question #2

2. How do you create this roadmap?

We begin by focusing on your goals, objectives, priorities and values. These may be short-term or long-term desires. For example, we have helped our clients achieve the following common goals:


  • Saving money on current or future income taxes
  • Providing children or grandchildren with a high quality education
  • Enjoying a worry-free financial independence or environment
  • Leaving a legacy for loved ones or a favorite charity


Whether you are just starting out, are on the road to achieving your goals, or are meeting these objectives but need a new strategy, professional insight, or a check-up, you can benefit from hourly, fee-only financial planning. Everyone needs a periodic assessment of where they are on the road to meeting their financial goals.


Next, we complete an in-depth review of your current financial situation. We then turn to determining how you can best achieve or continue working towards your financial goals. By focusing on cash flow, investments, taxes, social security, pensions and retirement plans, estate planning, insurance issues, college funding strategies, saving opportunities and other general financial matters, we design a customized financial plan for you.


Finally, to achieve the intended results, you must implement and monitor your plan, or if you wish we can assist you.


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Question #3

3. This sounds like a lot of work, is it?

It may seem like that at first, but the good news is, if you follow your plan and maintain a disciplined approach, you can rest well knowing you can reach your stated goals. The plan that we prepare for you is only as good as the thinking that we both do it together. We try to make the process as easy and painless as possible for you! In addition to receiving professional advice on your most important financial concerns, we can also provide implementation services, if appropriate for your needs.


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Question #4

4. Who can benefit from your services?

Any individual or family seeking financial peace of mind can benefit from our services. We serve people at all income levels, from all walks of life. Clients have the flexibility to work with us on either a one-time, as needed basis or an ongoing basis. 


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Question #5

5. What makes you a better choice?

We love what we do and are passionate about helping our clients achieve their goals. In addition as a Registered Investment Advisor, we are held to a Fiduciary Standard unlike many other financial planners, stock brokers and insurance agents. As a fiduciary, we are required to act with undivided loyalty to you, the client. This includes disclosure of how we are to be compensated and any corresponding conflicts of interest.


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Question #6

6. What is Hourly, Fee-Only financial planning and why should it be important to me?

Because we are Hourly, Fee-Only financial planners, all conflicts of interest regarding compensation are removed. We do not accept sales commissions; we work solely for our clients. Because we do not sell financial products such as investments and insurance, there are no third-party relationships or outside influences to color our thinking and financial recommendations. 


In addition, our firm is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) in New Jersey; as such, we must comply with a host of regulations designed to protect the consumer. One important question you should always ask when considering a financial planner's services: "May I please have a copy of your ADV Part II?" This document contains important information about the planner's qualifications, fiduciary duties, history of any past violations, etc. We would be happy to send you a copy of our ADV part II. Please contact us to request a copy or download a copy under the Client Forms section of the navigation bar. 


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Question #7

7. Does OakTree Financial Planning provide only comprehensive financial planning?

No. Although a comprehensive financial plan can provide the greatest benefits, we can limit our advisory services to your specific needs, such as cash management and budgeting, portfolio review or college funding.


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Question #8

8. I understand the benefits of working with an Hourly, Fee-Only financial planner, but I might need

While we do not sell financial products, we will offer specific recommendations and opinions regarding the purchase of the various financial products that may be appropriate for you. So, if you need to obtain an insurance policy, invest in a portfolio of mutual funds, or find an estate planning attorney or tax professional, we can direct you to the resources you need and/ or help you obtain these products and services. If appropriate, we can help you implement your plan and set up your accounts.


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Question #9

9. For what types of investments and financial planning matters do you provide advice?

We provide advice for most types of investment securities, including mutual funds, stocks, bonds and, bank deposits. We will not advise you on alternative investments such as real estate, private placements, private limited partnerships and hedge funds.


We provide advice and education on retirement planning, budgeting and cash flow issues, 401(k)'s, 403(b)'s and other retirement programs including social security strategies, rollovers, stock options, life and disability insurance and college funding and more.


Clients are encouraged to call us when they have a major life event, such as a new job, a baby, a marriage or divorce, or if they are planning to buy a new home or start their own business. We also encourage our clients to call with with more common everyday questions, such as "How should I invest within my 401(k) or 403(b) plan? How can I reduce my taxes" or "How can I maximize my Health Saving Account or Flexible Saving Account?"


Our clients can call us with any and all of their financial concerns. If someone with different skills could better meet your particular concern, we will candidly say so and can help you find a professional with the necessary expertise.


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Question #10

10. My spouse and I are just beginning to build our financial future. There is so much to learn! We

Yes. Some firms have minimum income or net worth levels, but at OakTree, we realize that everyone has financial needs. We are proud to work with people from all income levels, and all walks of life. Call us today and let's get started. 


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Question #11

11. What is your investment philosophy?

Based on a thorough understanding of our client's current financial situation, financial objectives, risk tolerance and investment time horizon, we recommend that our clients build a diversified portfolio that is centered around passive investing based on Modern Portfolio Theory. We implement this strategy by recommending that our clients buy passively managed index funds, exchange-traded funds ("ETFs") and passive asset class funds so that they receive a market rate of return in a low cost and tax- efficient manner. We recommend periodic rebalancing of our client's portfolio to prevent market movements from shifting the risk profile and to allow for tax loss harvesting.


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Question #12

12. How much will my financial plan or advice cost?

Our fees are based on the actual time involved in meeting with you in person or over the phone, researching and analyzing your current situation, and providing specific recommendations and implementation assistance if appropriate. The total fees for a financial plan will vary from client to client based on the specific needs of your situation. Our hourly rates are $180/hour, and a basic two hour consultation would start at $360. A comprehensive standard financial plan would typically run between $1,200 and $1,800, and more complex comprehensive plans run in excess of $1,800. We will always provide you with an accurate estimate of the cost of our services before you begin working with us.


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Question #13

13. Can I have a written agreement that details the services that you will provide?

If you decide to engage our services, we will provide you with an accurate estimate of the cost of the services along with a written Engagement Letter that details the service that will be provided by OakTree Financial Planning and Consulting, L.L.C. In addition, much of the information about our fees, qualifications and ways of doing business etc. are included in our Investment Advisor disclosure document also known as Form ADV Part II.


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Question #14

14. Are your fees tax deductible?

Yes, with certain limitations. Section 212 of the Internal Revenue Code permits an itemized deduction for tax and/ or investment advice in the miscellaneous section of Schedule A. It is subject to a 2% floor of the adjusted gross income on a personal tax return.


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Question #15

15. Once my financial plan is completed, will our relationship end?

That is entirely up to you. Because financial planning is a process, not an event, we offer ongoing services, periodic reviews and day-to-day consultation as requested and/ or needed.


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Question #16

16. Do you have weekend or evening hours?

Upon request, we offer expanded office hours to accommodate special needs or emergency situations.


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Question #17

17. I have limited funds and time, so why should I get started now?

Procrastination is the greatest obstacle to success. Goals won't do you any good, and financial problems won't go away unless you take action. "A goal without a plan is just a wish" - Antoine de Saint-Exupery


OakTree can help you by providing you with easily understood recommendations and specific instructions for implementing a plan which will enable you to reach your goals. We offer accessible options for beginners or those with limited budgets.


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Question #18

18. How do I get started?

The first step is an initial inquiry from you. Call us at 908-580-0255 or email us at info@oaktreefinancialplanning.com. We offer an initial no-cost, no-obligation Get Acquainted Meeting which can be conducted over the phone or in person. 


Most clients find the financial planning process to be stimulating and enlightening. The end result, of course, is greater peace of mind. We look forward to helping you reach your financial goals.


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