Our Firm - FAQ's
We are a full-service financial firm committed to helping people pursue their financial goals. We offer a wide range of financial products and services to individuals and business owners, and are proud to offer socially responsible investment options*.
Please call us if you have any questions about our firm or the range of financial products and services we provide.
Selecting an Advisor to Manage My Family’s Wealth
These are the questions I need answered before entering into a long-term relationship with a financial advisor:
What are your credentials?
I am a Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFPTM), Certified Public Accountant/Personal Financial Specialist (CPA/PFS), and a Registered Representative and Investment Advisor Representative of Avantax Wealth ManagementSM. I have been practicing in Whatcom County for over 30 years. I am also a member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA), American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and the Association of CPA Financial Planners (ACPAFP). I earned my Bachelors of Science in Business Administration – Accounting from Indiana University in 1977. I receive more than 75 hours of continuing education each year.
What are your core beliefs on developing an investment plan?
A client’s financial goals and personality are critical factors in developing an investment plan. I believe foremost in diversification of investments and the active rebalancing of those investments over time. I also use a holistic approach to integrate the investment plan* with other areas of your life, such as budgeting, tax planning, retirement planning, college planning, and estate planning.
The investment plan* begins by determining your investment objectives, income and liquidity needs, time horizon, and risk tolerance level. I will help you integrate your existing investments into the allocation to develop the most comprehensive investment strategy. Next we will develop an asset allocation strategy designed to balance risks and rewards, get your approval on the recommendations, and implement the portfolio. Then, over time, we will monitor and rebalance the account as needed to ensure that your portfolio retains the asset allocation that will help you pursue your long-term goals.
What are your core beliefs on investing other people’s money?
Being entrusted with clients’ money is a responsibility I take very seriously. I perform this duty according to strict codes of honesty and integrity, so you can rest assured that your best interests always come first and guide the decisions, not commissions or fees. This means you get the most suitable investment at a price you can afford. My goal is to help you succeed in pursuing your goals.
My highest concern is to provide objective investment recommendations that suit your needs, not to generate transactions. I do not provide “cookie-cutter” investment plans – each plan is customized for your unique needs. My job as your Advisor is to optimize your money’s earning potential within your risk parameters.
Investment and financial planning* are processes, not events, so periodic reviews are necessary to ensure the plan remains on track to meet your goals, especially if you’ve experienced or expect to experience a significant life event such as getting married or divorced, having a child, considering an early retirement or starting a small business.
What is your area of specialty?
I specialize in working with any client who demonstrates a desire to learn and grow. Because I run a small business with a down-to-earth style, I can provide a more personal level of service and am readily available should you ever have any questions or just want to talk. With my extensive tax background, I offer tax-sensitive investing. I am also proud to offer socially responsible investment options.
Who is Avantax Investment ServicesSM? Why would I entrust my money to an “independent” advisor?
Based in Irving, Texas, Avantax Investment ServicesSM supports an independent network of tax and non-tax professionals who distribute comprehensive financial planning solutions, including securities, insurance, and money management services. Avantax provides excellent back-office support for your investment needs and helps me do a better job for you. Being independent means I can offer investment options from many different providers under no pressure to recommend any specific products.
What is the process you will take me and my family through over the next six months?
Initially, we will meet to get acquainted with each other to ensure mutual compatibility. I will learn about you, your goals and your constraints so I understand where you are starting from and where you want to go. Moving forward, we will review your goals and dreams and then put together a financial plan to help you pursue them. The financial planning software I use also enables me to run different scenarios so you can look at the potential effects of different actions.
Who are your clients?
My clients range from young folks just getting started with financial planning and investments to retirees, small businesses, charitable foundations, trusts and corporations. Most of my clients either come from referrals or already knew me as their tax professional. Recognizing that everyone has to start somewhere, there are no minimums regarding account size or net worth to become a client.
How will using your advice benefit me and my family?
I believe in building long-term client relationships. By partnering with me, I hope that you may worry less about your money as time goes by and spend more time enjoying life. I hold several seminars and workshops throughout the year to help educate clients on financial matters. Because we will work as a team, I want you to understand and be comfortable asking why a recommendation is made and the thought process that goes along with it. By arming you with knowledge, you can make more informed decisions about your future.
What should I expect to pay for the services and value you will bring me and my family?
Fees are based on an evaluation of your needs and are designed to ensure that the highest value of service is received. I offer different fee structures suitable for each individual client’s situation, such as fee-based advisory accounts where the fee charged is a percentage of the assets under management, commission-based accounts, or fee-for-plan. You will get full disclosure of the benefits, risks and fees so that by understanding how we work together, you avoid unpleasant surprises. Some advisory clients may even be able to deduct the fees on their tax returns.
Our first meeting is complimentary and gives us the chance to meet each other, determine if we can develop a mutually beneficial long-term relationship, and is an excellent time to ask any questions you may have. Call me today and let’s get started!
Neither asset allocation nor diversification assures or guarantees better performance and cannot eliminate the risk of investment losses.
Investments are subject to market risks including the potential loss of principal invested. Investments & Insurance Products: Are not insured by the FDIC or any federal government agency, Are not deposits of or guaranteed by the bank or any bank affiliate, May lose Value
*These services are offered by Rick Steele and Miranda Petersen through their affiliation with Avantax Investment ServicesSM, Avantax Advisory ServicesSM, and Avantax Insurance AgencySM.