Frequently Asked Questions

Some answers to important questions you may have in mind before working with an advisor, and a few differences between Ascent Financial Group and other advisors:

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We don't earn fees through product sales or recommendations




We do much more than manage investments

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What is the difference between a CFP® and a financial advisor?

A Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) is a professional designation that requires individuals to complete rigorous coursework, pass an exam, and have at least three years of financial planning experience. CFP®s must also adhere to a code of ethics and ongoing continuing education requirements. A CFP® has special technical expertise with regards to retirement, estate, tax and investment planning; but the real skill comes in the ability to bring all those pieces of a persons financial life together. And because they are held to a fiduciary standard of care when providing financial planning services, a CFP® professional is required to act in your best interest.  (Source)

A financial advisor, on the other hand, is a broader term that refers to anyone who provides financial advice to clients. While some financial advisors may have earned the CFP® designation, not all do, and there are no standardized qualifications or requirements for using the title.

In summary, a CFP® is a specific type of financial advisor who has met certain education, experience, and ethical standards, while a financial advisor is a more general term that can encompass a range of professionals with varying levels of expertise and qualifications.

What is a registered investment advisor?

A Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) is a financial professional or firm that provides investment advice and manages assets for clients in exchange for a fee. RIAs are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or state securities authorities, and, unlike brokers, must act as fiduciaries. This means they are legally required to act in their clients' best interests.

Do you receive commissions or sell products?

We do not sell products or receive any commissions from product companies or third parties. As a fee-only advisor, we earn a fixed percentage fee on the assets that we manage or a fixed fee for developing a financial plan for a client. Clients pay us directly for the services we provide.

We believe that working with a fee-only advisor who does not receive commissions better aligns our interests with yours and helps to reduce your total costs because we are seeking products that can do the best job at the lowest cost. 

What does fee-only mean?

A fee-only financial advisor is a financial professional who only charges clients for the advice and services they provide. These advisors do not earn commissions or any other type of compensation from the sale of financial products, such as investments or insurance. As a result, fee-only advisors are often seen as having fewer conflicts of interest, as they are not incentivized to recommend particular products to clients.

Fee-only financial advisors may charge clients in a few different ways, such as a percentage of assets under management, a flat fee for a specific service, or an hourly rate. Regardless of the fee structure, the key characteristic of a fee-only advisor is that they do not receive any compensation from financial products they recommend or sell to their clients.

What is a fiduciary?

A fiduciary financial advisor is a financial professional who is legally and ethically obligated to act in the best interest of their clients. As fiduciaries, these advisors must put their clients' interests above their own and disclose any potential conflicts of interest.

Fiduciary financial advisors are held to a higher standard of care than non-fiduciary advisors, such as broker-dealers, who are only required to recommend "suitable" investments to their clients. In contrast, fiduciaries must act in their clients' best interest at all times, and must disclose any potential conflicts of interest, such as compensation they receive from recommending certain investments or products.

Fiduciary financial advisors may be registered investment advisors (RIAs), who are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or state securities authorities, or they may be certified financial planners (CFPs) who have agreed to adhere to a code of ethics and standards set by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

Who is your typical client?

Our typical client is someone age 50 plus with $1 million or more of liquid investment assets (excluding real estate). In addition, you are likely a good fit if:

  • You want a personalized plan to help you transition to retirement and not just investment management
  • You want to know your spouse will be in not just good, but great hands
  • You value having a "certainty of outcome" over simply "beating the market"
Do you hold my money or have access to my accounts?

Our clients’ funds are typically custodied with Charles Schwab as an independent custodian. For many clients, this provides reassurance and a system of checks and balances, as their money is not physically held by the same company who advises on how to invest it.

Clients have priority access at any time as well verbal approval authorization required prior to money transfers; written approval must also be granted when transferring funds externally. Our advisors are able to quickly adjust investments if needed, but will always consult our clients on such changes that impact previously discussed financial plans/strategies before executing them.

Do you work with clients remotely or virtually?

Our suite of technology platforms enable us to provide quality advice and service for clients located far away or unable to meet in person.

Video calls, virtual meetings, intuitive planning tools and intelligent account opening processes ensure that our client experience is efficient yet seamless - no matter the distance!

Currently (as of 1/15/2024) we have clients located in 13 states. 

How often will I meet with my financial advisor?

Establishing a strong and ongoing relationship with our financial advisors is essential for success. We recommend scheduling two to three meetings at the outset—the first being an informational gathering about your finances and family priorities, followed by more focused conversations around specific planning or investing strategies.

We build on this foundation by creating a recurrent meeting rhythm that meets each household's individual needs, while feeling confident knowing we are available all year long should any questions or concerns arise over the course of your journey. Typically, we proactively reach out to clients every three to six months to schedule a financial review/update.

What is your investment philosophy?

We believe in a simple, but sophisticated and disciplined approach to managing our clients’ investments. It is important to us that our clients should understand their investments, and the process we use to select and manage your portfolio should be consistent. In order to do this, we've created an evidence-based approach to the steps in our investment management process; including – goals-based risk assessment, strategic asset allocation, manager selection and rebalancing. Most importantly, we do not try to time the market.

What are your fees?

At Ascent Financial Group, we believe in transparency when it comes to our fees. We want to ensure that you fully understand our pricing structure and the value we provide to our clients.

Wealth Management
Financial Planning + Investment Management + Relationship

For wealth management clients, we typically charge an annual fee based upon a small percentage of the assets that we manage on your behalf. 


Financial Planning

For clients who just want a financial plan without investment management, we typically charge a fixed fee between $2,500 for individuals to $10,000. But, fees may differ depending upon your situation. 

For clients who require an updated plan after an initial plan has been completed, we typically charge an hourly fee of $300/hour or a new planning fee in full depending upon the amount of work required.

We understand that fees are an important consideration when choosing a financial advisor. We want you to know that our fees are fair and transparent, and we work hard to ensure that you receive the value you deserve.

If you have any questions about our fees or would like to discuss your financial situation in more detail, please don't hesitate to contact us.

*Investment Management Fees are payable quarterly, in advance of the quarter, and deducted automatically from the portfolio.

Why should I pay an advisor – can’t I do this myself?

This is an important question. There are so many great tools for those people who want to handle their own investing and financial planning.

What we’ve found though, is that many people have a tough time implementing their plan consistently. While they may be able to research a great fund, or do their own taxes, the key is bringing all the pieces of your financial life together. Taxes, insurance, employee benefits, investments, cash flow and retirement planning, estate planning, and now even credit reports, and so much more.

Whether our clients are raising children or planning retirement, that’s where real financial security and wealth creation happens, a few small but strategic steps over and over again, over many years.

The reason our clients choose to work with us and pay for our services – is because there is a lot to learn. And the cost of making a mistake is high. What if you didn’t save enough to cover for inflation before and during retirement? How do you know if you’re really saving enough? Or if you’ve saved enough? Should you work another year? Or more?

What if you pay off your mortgage at retirement with your 401k and you end up running out of money and you have to sell your house anyways? When is the right time to sell during a market correction? Or is there a right time? When should I take social security? When should I downsize? Or should I buy more company stock?

All these questions might have their own separate isolated answer, but how do you weave together all the pieces of your financial life to provide perspective on each of those decisions.

There is no one size fits all answer and it’s hard to google your way to financial security. Our clients choose us because they don’t want to get it wrong. They want a partner they can trust.

One way to look at it is to ask yourself if you think it’s possible that you’ll have more money or a bigger nest egg or net worth by having a financial professional involved – even after paying the advisory fee. In many cases, we find our clients are paying a lot in fees already (like in 401ks) – even without a real financial planner involved.

Our position is this…

  • If what we do for our clients is make sure they do the things they say they want to - like save what they need to save, spend what they need to spend, and invest when they need to invest – how much is that worth to them?

Between taxes, investments, legal issues with estate planning; not to mention just priority setting and having a clear vision of the future – there’s a lot to know and to keep organized and on track. And it takes a lot of time. We think the cost of getting it wrong is high, and our clients must agree. Some of our relationships go back over 20 years, and we deeply value these long-term relationships and the level of trust and respect afforded to us.