Frequently Asked Questions
A fee-only advisor is legally bound to advise and make recommendations that always put your best interests first. This is what is known as a fiduciary level of care.
Pillar Financial Advisors is a fee-only advisor which simply means that 100% of our compensation comes directly from the fees paid by our clients. We do not receive or accept commissions from any of the financial vehicles we recommend. We do not accept compensation from any brokerage firm, mutual fund, or insurance company. Likewise, we do not accept referral fees from any professional we may recommend you work with.
As a client of Pillar Financial Advisors, the fee you pay us covers all of the services we offer. We want you to receive the maximum benefit of working with us by taking advantage of the complete Pillar Process which goes well beyond investment advice.
Our fee structure provides you with full transparency and no surprises, you always know exactly what you are paying for our services. And you can take comfort in the fact that we act as a fiduciary, requiring that we always place your best interests first.
A fiduciary standard of care is the highest degree of business responsibility a person or company can have to another. It means that a registered investment advisor must place their client’s interests ahead of their interests. Any conflicts that may cause the advisor to put their interest first must be eliminated or clearly explained to you, so you can decide whether they are acceptable.
A long-standing federal law, the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, requires Registered Investment Advisors to meet this fiduciary standard of care.
Be aware that many companies and their employees that call themselves advisors are not Registered Investment Advisors and are, therefore, not bound by a fiduciary standard.
Regardless of who you work with to provide financial and investment advice, we recommend making sure that they are either bound or agree, in writing, to work under a fiduciary standard of care 100% of the time.
Pillar’s approach provides you with a comprehensive way to plan for and achieve your goals.
We will work with you to:
- Create a long-term financial plan that takes you from where you are to where you want to be with a high level of confidence
- Protect and grow your wealth through a well-structured, disciplined investment philosophy that meets your plan’s needs
- Work strategically to mitigate your tax burden over both the short- and long-term
- Evaluate whether your various insurance coverages will protect your wealth against catastrophic losses and other vulnerabilities
- Assist you in fulfilling your charitable goals as efficiently as possible
- Providing ongoing financial advice by working with us as your personal Chief Financial Officer
Unfortunately, there are no standardized requirements for someone to call himself or herself a financial advisor. You will find a huge disparity in the backgrounds and qualifications of people who provide financial advice. This fact can make choosing the right financial advisor for you confusing and challenging.
At Pillar, you will be working with college degreed professionals and the respected financial designations listed below. Our advisors also have significant experience in providing financial advice to a wide variety of individuals and institutions.
Here are some certification definitions that you may find useful in determining an advisor’s qualifications.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
The CPA credential is bestowed upon individuals with an appropriate bachelor’s degree, has passed the rigorous CPA exam and met the minimum experience requirement (generally two years). CPAs are also required to uphold a code of ethics and complete a minimum amount of continuing professional education each year.
Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
The PFS designation is granted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Applicants must first earn the CPA designation and demonstrate knowledge and experience in personal financial planning through examinations and certification.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
The CFA professional credential offered through the CFA Institute to investment and financial professionals. It requires the passing of a rigorous three-part examination and appropriate experience in the analysis of investments. CFA charter holders are required to uphold a code of ethics.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP®)
The CFP® professional designation is offered through the CFP Board. It requires completing 18 to 24 months of study, passing a rigorous ten-hour exam, and working for three years as a financial planner or doing a two-year apprenticeship with a CFP® professional before earning the designation. CFP® professionals are required to uphold a code of ethics and complete a minimum amount of continuing professional education every two years.
Pillar Financial Advisors has had a strategic alliance with DFA since Pillar was founded. For more than 30 years, DFA has been translating compelling research into practical investment solutions for investors.
DFA manages its mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) in a highly structured and efficient manner without making predictions about the markets or stock prices. Their style results in low costs and tax efficiency.
DFA does not offer their funds directly to individual retail investors. Instead, to help control turnover and trading costs, their funds are only available through qualified and approved financial advisors.