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Alison Wealth Management Prospective Client FAQ

Below you will find a FAQ section to help navigate your decision to work with our firm. At Alison Wealth Management, we believe in integrity, objectivity, competence, transparency, and professionalism and feel this FAQ can help determine if we are the right fit for you.

Are you a fiduciary?

Yes, at Alison Wealth Management we uphold the fiduciary standard. Dave Alison is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Investment Advisor Representative, which bounds him to the Fiduciary standard through the CFP® Board Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct as well as the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Dave Alison is also an Enrolled Agent admitted to practice before the IRS. As such, Dave is a Member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents and adheres to a code of ethics to demonstrate honesty, integrity, and objectivity in all their professional actions and relationships.

What is a fiduciary and why is it important to work with a fiduciary?

A fiduciary is a person or organization that acts on behalf of another person or persons to manage assets. Essentially, a fiduciary owes to that other entity the duties of good faith and trust. The highest legal duty of one party to another, being a fiduciary requires being bound ethically to act in the other's best interests. Most advisors tailor their investment advice to individuals’ clients they work with, however, not all advisors are governed by the same standards. Fiduciary advisors work directly for clients and must place clients' interests ahead of their own, according to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. For example, advisers cannot buy securities for their accounts prior to buying them for clients and are prohibited from making trades that may result in higher commissions for themselves or their investment firms. It also means advisers must do their best to make sure investment advice is made using accurate and complete information and that the analysis is thorough and as accurate as possible. Avoiding a conflict of interest is important when acting as a fiduciary, which means that advisers must disclose any potential conflicts. Advisors who are not a fiduciary, however, serve the broker-dealers they work for and must only believe that recommendations are suitable for clients. This suitability standard is set by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

What type of clients do you work with?

Primarily, a select group of professionals and business owners, who among other things aspire to a work optional lifestyle and simplification of their financial life.  Alison Wealth Management doesn't try to be all things for all people, but rather all things for some people and it's all about right fit.

What is the minimum asset level or income for someone to become a client of Alison Wealth Management?

We work with clients that have either $500k+ of investable assets or $500k+ of income ($250k if single).

What is the upper end of clients that Alison Wealth Management has the expertise to work with?

The typical sweet spot in which we excel at bringing maximum value to our clients is those who have under $30,000,000 in net worth. We have found that once a family crosses the $30 million tier, there are other entities that may be able to offer a diverse set of services to best serve that family.

What are the typical financial & tax planning costs I could expect to pay?

Our financial & tax planning services starts at $995. Based on the complexity of the plan, that price could increase. As an example, a client with $2,000,000 in net worth (excluding primary residence) could expect to pay about $2,995. 50% of the cost is due upon engagement with the remaining 50% due upon delivery of your plan. 

What is included in the financial & tax planning?

Financial & tax planning is a dynamic process. From budgeting, to planning for retirement, to saving for education, to managing your taxes and your insurance coverage, “finances” doesn’t mean just one thing for most Americans—and “financial & tax planning” means much more than just investing. Bringing all the pieces of your financial life together is a challenging task. Although many professionals may call themselves “financial planners” or “tax advisors”, CFP® professionals and Enrolled Agents have completed extensive training and experience requirements and are held to rigorous ethical standards. Alison Wealth Management understands all the complexities of the changing financial & tax climate and we know how to make recommendations in your best interest.

Financial & tax planning takes the guesswork out of managing your finances and helps you understand the implications of each decision you make. The average citizen faces an uncertain economy and more options for saving and investing than ever before. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or confused, unless you find a way to understand the big picture. Over the last 14 years, we have developed and refined a process that puts all the pieces of the financial puzzle together for clients as their life unfolds and needs evolve. 

What is wealth management?

Wealth management is an investment advisory service that combines other financial services to address the needs of our affluent clients. It is a consultative process whereby we glean information about your wants and implement a strategy utilizing appropriate financial products and services.

How do I work with Alison Wealth Management for wealth management services?

At Alison Wealth Management, we utilize the spectrum of financial disciplines available, such as financial and investment advice, legal or estate planning, tax services, and retirement planning, to manage our affluent client's wealth for one set fee. That fee generally ranges between 0.30% - 1.0% of the assets we manage, depending on the amount invested.

If we engaged as a wealth management client, is there a discounted rate for financial & tax planning?

Yes, we have a number of discounts available depending on how you engage.

If you begin as a financial planning client, 50% of the agreed upon financial planning fee is due upon the engagement. If during the course of financial planning, you determine you would like to become a wealth management client, we waive the second 50% of the financial planning cost as a value for becoming a wealth management client. This is the path many of our clients embark down because it is essential to have a plan before selecting investments.

If you begin as a wealth management client, you receive allotted hours of financial & tax planning at no additional cost based on the asset amount you have invested with our firm.

Do you offer tax preparation?

Yes! As an Enrolled Agent admitted to practice before the IRS, Dave Alison has achieved the highest credential the IRS awards. Individuals who obtain this elite status must adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education courses every three years.

Enrolled agents, like attorneys and certified public accountants (CPAs), have unlimited practice rights. This means they are unrestricted as to which taxpayers they can represent, what types of tax matters they can handle, and which IRS offices they can represent clients before. We offer tax preparation services to our wealth management clients at discounted rates.

What is the difference between tax preparation and tax planning?

Tax preparation is reactive, you are taking historical numbers and filing them into software correctly to determine how much you owe or receive back as a refund. Tax planning is proactive and is a year-round process. From ensuring a plan is in place to fund estimated tax liabilities, to monitoring investment transactions or stock options so they don’t cause the wrong type of tax, to managing proper investment types to maximize after tax returns, proper tax planning can add substantial wealth to you and your family over time.

Do you offer tax representation work?

We offer limited tax representation for issues that arise from financial matters. The most common issue we support is helping clients navigate CP2000 letters. We support clients based on an hourly rate of $300/hour for tax services. A discounted rate is available for existing clients.

What is an Enrolled Agent?

Enrolled Agents (EAs) are federally-licensed tax practitioners who may represent taxpayers before the IRS when it comes to collections, audits and appeals. EAs are granted unlimited practice rights to represent taxpayers before IRS and are authorized to advise, represent, and prepare tax returns for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates, trusts, and any entities with tax-reporting requirements. Enrolled agents are the only federally-licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS.

What are the differences between Enrolled Agents and other tax professionals?

Only enrolled agents are required to demonstrate to the IRS their competence in all areas of taxation, representation and ethics before they are awarded unlimited representation rights to represent taxpayers before IRS. Unlike attorneys and CPAs, who are state-licensed and who may or may not choose to specialize in taxes, all enrolled agents specialize in taxation.

What is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™?

Although many professionals may call themselves “financial planners,” CFP® professionals have completed extensive training and experience requirements and are held to rigorous ethical standards. They understand the complexities of the changing financial climate and know how to make recommendations in your best interest. Unlike many financial advisors, CFP® professionals must develop their theoretical and practical knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum approved by CFP Board.

CFP® professionals must pass the comprehensive CFP® Certification Exam, which tests their abilities to apply financial planning knowledge to real-life situations. CFP® professionals complete several years of experience related to delivering financial planning services to clients prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification trademarks. When it comes to ethics and professional responsibility, CFP® professionals are held to the highest of standards, as outlined in CFP Board's Standards of Professional Conduct. They are obliged to uphold the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence as outlined in CFP Board’s Code of Ethics. The Rules of Conduct require CFP® professionals to put your interests ahead of their own at all times and to provide their financial planning services as a “fiduciary”—acting in the best interest of their financial planning clients.

(650) 617-3402