Industry Jargon

+ What does it mean to be a fiduciary?

A fiduciary is the highest standard because the financial advisor must legally put their client's best interests above their own. Furthermore, all conflicts of interest must be disclosed. The fee you pay is just that, a transparent way of doing business since there are no hidden costs. It is truly a more straigtforward way of doing business with your financial planner.

+ What is fee-only and why does it matter?

Common fee structures include: hourly, monthly retainers, as a percentage of assets, or a flat fee.

Fee-only advisors are directly compensated by their clients for their advice, planning, and ongoing management of assets. This means Mellen Money Management will never "sell" you a product to hit a monthly quota.

Whereas, commission and fee-based advisors work under a lower suitablability standard and are not considered a pure fiduciary because they are compensated based on the products they sell. What's worse is that their commissions are not level and vary by product or 3rd party vendor. The bottom line is the way your advisor is compensated makes all the difference and will greatly influence the advice you receive.

+ What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?

Unfortunately, too many professionals call themselves financial planners, even when they are not. However, advisors who have successfully satisfied the CFP Board's certification requirements are permitted to use the CFP® designation marks. Doing so represents a high degree of compentancy, professionalism, and ethics. A much better way of verifying if your financial planner truly is one. Learn more at the CFP Board's website.

+ What is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC)?

A professional designation awarded by the College for Financial Planning to individuals who complete a study program and pass a final examination. Those who pass gain in-depth knowledge of individuals' needs both before retirement. A designee will demonstrate expertise in the following areas: the entire retirement planning process, including meeting multiple financial objectives, sources of retirement income, personal savings, employer-sponsored retirement plans, income taxes, retirement cash flow, asset management, and estate planning.

What's In It For You

+ When should someone "DIY" and not use an advisor?

Prospective clients who believe an advisor can help them time the market are never a good fit. As a general rule, someeone may not need a financial planner when that person has both enough time to spend managing all of his or her financial affairs, and the necessary expertise to ensure his or her net worth is being maximized across the board. For more complex planning, a second set of eyes is always recommended.

+ What kind of value should I expect to get from working with a financial planner?

According to Vanguard, about 3% per year more with your investments (after fees). According to Mellen Money Management, a ton of value. Especially the longer we work together. Why? Because we continuously grow more familiar with your needs, help evaluate important decisions whenever your plan requires course corrections, provide an objective point of view that is consistently reinforced over time, and hold you accountable to follow through on your plan.

To learn more, read, The Value of Financial Advice: Quantified & Explained.

Who We Serve

+ Who is your typical client?

Generally: Many of the clients we serve work in medicine, law, technology, sales, engineering, active duty or retired military, and business owners. As a result, we understand the financial problems that are unique to those professions.

Specialized Expertise: Professionals with significant student debt. Mid-career parents with kids nearing college (junior year or younger preferred). Helping entreprenuers start their business, as well as established business owners grow their companies.

+ What is Mellen Money Management really good at?

Most financial planners are either good at the planning or the investments. Mellen Money Management excels at both, as evidenced by Scott Snider's 11 years of invesmtment management and 9 years of retirement planning experience.

Furthermore, Scott's specialized knowledge with student loans and college financial aid is especially important to young professionals who have a signficant amount of student debt and family's with children approaching college.

More importantly, Scott's 6+ years in banking has enabled him to help his clients easily navigate the mortgage process, understand how to get a business loan, pay down debt, and avoid being taken advantage of by aggressive bankers with sales quotas.

+ How did you come up with the name Mellen Money Management?

The firm was named after founder, Scott Snider's grandparents, who helped pave his way to an affordable college education. Without their generosity, Scott would have been stuck climbing out of student debt like so many young professionals are today.

Doing Business Together

+ What do you charge for the 1st meeting?

Nothing, zero, zilch, nada... The first meeting is complimentary.

+ What is your investment minimum for working with clients?

$0. We don't believe an asset minimum should be a hurdle for us to work together. Financial planning isn't just for the rich anymore. In fact, we enjoy teaching our clients how to become wealthy.

+ Do you really charge a minimum of $150/month AND an initial plan implementation fee ($500-$1,500) for your comprehensive planning services?

Yes, we are confident that our value will offset what you pay us. Furthermore, fees can be deducted from investment account(s) for amounts at or above $150,000.

One very important reason is that our time is worth something -- we average between 15 to 20 hours per year on each client. Considering our hourly rate is $250, you begin to realize that our monthly subscription service is a bargain.

Our upfront fee of $500-$1,500 is only assessed one-time and is based on the complexity and needs of the client. Our clients can cancel their engagements with a 30-day notice, so this ensures we don't give away our services for free. Furthermore, the early stages typically require the largest time commitment.

+ Why do you tie your fee to your client's net worth (0.75%)?

We believe this is the best way to eliminate potential conflicts of interest. Our goal is to build your net worth, period. This method allows us to do so. However, the traditional way of charging fees is to attach it to your assets under management (AUM), usually at 1% - 1.50%.

The AUM model createss a couple of potential conflicts that don't sit well with us. First, the more we tell you to invest with us, the more we make. Secondly, the more we make doesn't always translate into the more you will make.

Example. What happens when you suddenly inherit $500,000 and want objective advice about investing the funds versus paying off your mortgage? At Mellen Money Management our incentive is tied to your net worth, so the decision is easy for us. But what about the advisor who charges 1% and makes more by having you invest it with them?

+ Why 4 types of service? How do I choose the right one?

We believe our clients like having choices and that offering multiple options ensures your needs are met in the most appropriate fashion.

Our comprehensive planning services are for consumers with multiple needs who require help integrating things like their budget, retirement, and college planning into one cohesive plan.

Hourly engagements are for short-term projects that involve comprehensive planning, and for prospective clients who prefer to test the waters before committing.

Investment management is for clients who simply want us to manage their assets, but don't need in-depth planning.

Lastly, our student loan planning service is a one-time project-based engagement that is focused around getting your debt under control and minimizing the overall cost.

If you are still not sure where to start, contact us and we can help you figure it out.

How We Operate

+ Can I work with you if I live in another state?

Yes, we have clients who live all over the country. We offer video conferencing as a convenient way to do business regardless of location.

+ What is your investment philosophy?

We believe it is important to minimize your investment costs through low expense index mutual funds and ETFs. Whenever it makes sense we utilize "no transaction fee" (NTF) funds to reduce trading costs to $0. Other core principles include: diversification, asset allocation, tax efficiency, tactical rebalancing, and risk management.

For clients with at least $100,000 to invest we provide custom portfolios, which consists of a combination of passive and active management. The active portion is limited to 20%-30% of your total investments and may include individual stocks or sector ETFs.

It is also prudent to let your financial plan influence the level of risk you take with your investments. If your plan doesn't need as much growth, why take on more risk than is necessary? Instead of letting your risk tolerance drive everything, we colaborate together to determine the most effective way to get you from point A to point B.

+ Where does my money go if I invest it with you? Is it safe?

Your money is held with our custodian, TD Ameritrade. They are the account trustee, and the platoform used to place trades and manage your funds. TD Ameritrade is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation ("SIPC"), which protects securities customers of its members up to $500,000. Note, this does not cover normal market declines.

+ How often do we meet?

3 meetings during the initial phase, then as needed annually. Typically ongoing comprehensive financial planning clients meet with us 1-4 times per year. Investment management clients meet with us 1-2 times per year. Hourly and student loan work is project based (1 and done). Regardless, we communicate and stay in contact regularly by email, phone, and newsletters. We also offer video conferencing for remote work.

+ How do I get started?

Schedule your 15-minute complimentary intro call by clicking here or emailing us at ssnider@mellenmoney.com.