1 SMART Step
Our firm is dedicated to serving the needs of individuals and small businesses without bias. We provide do-it-yourself investment training, financial consulting, planning, and analytical support.
Having knowledge is the best way to protect yourself, and secure your financial future. We provide you with the knowledge to make informed decisions, unlocking your full potential and shielding you against financial ruin. We believe the best person to make your financial decisions is you, and it all starts with 1 SMART Step.
WHY WE ARE DIFFERENT;
Instead of paying thousands of dollars every year in commissions and wrap fees, learn to invest on your own. This not only saves you money but allows you to get better returns buy getting higher quality investments. Come get educated with us. You never need to feel like you don't understand your investments, that someone is taking advantage of you, that you are being over charged, or that all that free advice from your advisor is only designed to get your money.
Learn about indexes, or how to pick your own stocks; all your investment options; how to determine if an investment is right for you; or just how to tell good advice from a fancy sales pitch.
HOW WE ARE THE SAME
Like all reputable financial advisors, we can provide you with:
* “5 Step” financial and retirement planning.
* “Three bucket” saving system.
* Education savings -- 12 ways to pay for college (don’t jump to 529).
* Life events checklists and advice.
* Annual financial reviews.
* Tax implications of investing, what investments and accounts can provide tax advantages.
We don't invest your money or receive money from any industry. It doesn't matter whether you want to invest in real estate, stocks, bonds, insurance, gold, or collector bubble gum we will do the analysis so you can make an informed decision.
There are a lot of great financial advisors out there, but it seams to be the exception not the rule. The industry tends to reward the the salesman, and scorn those who take the time to really try to help, or that dare put the client's interest over the company's interest. Because of this, the best advisors often become frustrated with the industry and leave.
There are no truly "independent" advisors in the financial industry. Sure there are advisors that are not locked into selling a certain line of products that call themselves "independent", but they are still selling financial products and receiving money from clients who buy those products or invest with them. This doesn't mean that their product is not right for you. It just means that you can't be sure the advice you are receiving is not intended to convince you to invest with them (even if you pay by the hour).
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE RECEIVING UNBIASED ADVICE?
The best way to know if you are receiving good advice or biased advice is to become educated on the subject you are getting advice about. An advisor that doesn't want you to seek outside education is at best trying to keep you dependent on their advice and at worst hiding something. This does not mean you need to invest on your own, but it gives you the option. For example, I know a lot about taxes and read and reference the tax code all the time, but I don't file my own taxes. I choose to use a CPA because I am to obsessive to put something in a box without knowing everything about it, and don't have the time to keep up with all the nuances every year to complete one persons taxes (my own), but I do understand what my accountant is doing and why.
There are a lot of different ways to invest, and a lot of good reasons to use or not use an advisor. Some investment goals and strategies are not compatible with the use of an advisor and some people are not doing themselves a favor by investing on their own.
WHAT WE ARE
1) We are a provider of education. We provide education and training to those who would like to learn about investing and financial analysis. We train you then stick by you to answer any questions you have.
2) We are a consulting and analysis company. We can provide an independent financial review, cost benefit analysis, competitive environment analysis, and many other types of analysis that may be require for you to make an informed decision.
WHAT WE’RE NOT
We are not (and not affiliated with) an insurance, banking, or financial institution. We don't invest your money or receive money from any industry. We educate you. You make the decisions and you invest online, with the institution of your choice, or what ever is best for you. Having knowledge gives you the confidence to succeed.
We can help with writing a business plan, creating financial forecasts, brain storming, marketing plan, startup considerations, emergency planning, continuity of operations planning (COOP), employee training or benchmarking competition.
You often need an analysis to gain support, obtain funding, determine the facts, or make an important decision. A full analysis of the facts is often needed make a sound business decision regarding investment, structure, expansion, or marketing. We can do many types of analysis to include return on investment (ROI), risk analysis, cost estimate, analysis of alternatives (AOA), cost analysis, cost benefit analysis (CBA), analysis of business environment, threat analysis, analysis of competing hypothesis (ACH), as well as various types of socio economic analysis.
There are many ways to invest your hard earned money (equities, bonds, real estate, insurance products, private ventures, commodities, precious metals, collectables, ...). We try to help you take an unbiased look at all the alternatives, as opposed to most places that only consider the ones that pay their bills (understandably).
Using traditional investing methods we could teach you how to get professional advisor results in only a few hours a year possibly saving you a lot of money. Or, in a few hours a month you can significantly improve your return without much more risk. Or, you could learn to trade regularly sell short, and buy covered options. The "fiduciary" principal as applied, not as doing what is in the clients best interest, but as what keeps the company from being sued. This equates to always taking a very conservative approach (always staying at 10-15 on a scale of 1-100). With a little training this norm is easy to exceed.
There is a lot of bad information out there, much of it intended to sell books, bolster a product, or even manipulate the market. The most important thing is getting information you can rely on, being honest with yourself, and having someone be honest with you. We will tell you what will work best for your personality, temperament, risk tolerance, and time commitment. We will teach you what you need to know for what you want to learn, and what to avoid. We can provide analytical support, but the choices are all up to you.
Do you ever wonder what else is out there?
TYPES OF INVESTMENTS
Going in depth and beyond common stocks, bonds and mutual funds: Is there a better investment? What’s right for you? How do you compare all the different types of investments?
WHERE CAN WE HELP
We are located in Fairfax County in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. We can do training in person in the local area. We can also conduct training via video conference or phone if necessary. Our investment and business education services are not limited by the location, but for specific tax and legal advice you should always talk to a local accountant or attorney.
We prefer to charge a fixed fee for a set of services agreed to upfront. The fee can vary depending on the scope, complexity, time involved, deliverables, and amount of follow-up required. Most of our entry level services have a set fixed fee and scope. Read the descriptions below and the "services" page to learn more. I personally can't stand hidden costs, and people playing games; so I try to give as much cost information as possible. I try to make prices fixed, up front and clear.
Investing on your own is very cost effective, often less than one tenth what you would pay using an advisor. It also doesn't need to be difficult, risky or time consuming. Advisor fees can quickly add up into the thousands each year, and the flat fee is the gift that keeps on giving, to the point that a typical investor putting in only $5,000 a year and paying one 1% a year throughout their life will spend well over $500,000.00 (that's half a million you could keep for yourself) from commissions and fees (compared to $10k to $20k for a do it yourself investor). You might want to start saving your money rather than giving it away.
1) There are many ways to invest (stocks, packaged funds, real estate, gold,...), but not all investments are equal and there is no one investment that is the best, or that works for everyone (no matter your knowledge). "Professionals" all seem to be the proverbial "guy with a hammer." If you talk to a "wealth advisor" the best answer is always the diversified portfolio of equities and bonds. A real estate manager will tell you real property is the only real investment. If you talk to a gold dealer they will tell you that gold is the only investment with lasting value regardless of the government. An insurance agent may try to convince you to put all your life savings in an annuity or life insurance product as an investment. That doesn't mean there are not great advisors out there, but they are just limited by their services, compensation and area of concern.
ANALYSIS OF ALTERNATIVES: Starting at $300 analyzing specific alternatives to find the advantages, disadvantages, returns and risks; without bias or conflicts of interest.
2) Any of the above types of investing could be a good investment. The problem is finding an expert in a field willing to tell you honestly it's not right for you, and what else might work (check out the "Types of Investments" tab under "News & Info" to get an idea of whats out there). Most places only take three of four factors into consideration (like age and risk tolerance) and automatically rule out anything they don't sell when giving you guidance.
WHAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU: For $100 we can find out what's truly the right and wrong way to invest for your specific situation. We will not just look at a few factors, we evaluate more than a dozen distinct factors in eight categories. We can explain each thing and if you want to be a day trader and we evaluate that it's not a good fit, we will explain the reasons and make sure you understand all the issues. In the end you are free to do whatever you want. We are here to support you no matter how you want to invest.
3) There is a lot of bad and self serving investment advice out there. Investing based on bad information or using a faulty technique could cost you everything (your money, your home, your relationships,...). Learn how to spot a good, and more importantly a bad investment, or investing technique.
LEARN TO INVEST ON YOUR OWN: We can teach you portfolio development, investing techniques, how to find investments and evaluate them. Training on programs normally include portfolio development, investment strategies, selecting investments, analyzing investments, and normally include one year of related support to answer all those questions you forgot or didn't know to ask when you received your training. A basic course is $200-$500 complex courses may cost more and depend on the amount and type of training requested.
HAVE A QUESTION: If you have a financial question that can be answered with a simple phone call or online we can do it for a fixed $60 charge. If we can't answer it or we need to schedule an appointment you won't be charged.
GROUP TRAINING: Training classes for groups vary in price, many can be given without charge, please contact us for more information. Numerous topics are available. The content and length can be adjusted between 15 minutes to multiple hours. We can create training for any type of group or age category. We can bring in other presenters, or coordinate with your current lineup. We truly want to help and will work with you for cost and scheduling. Remember these are custom made training classes to meet your needs. We don't have a home office providing canned generic presentation, and since we're not obligated to a company, industry or product line we can provide comparisons, and unbiased information can't find anywhere else.
WORKING WITH YOU: We can support you through phone calls, video conference, messaging, or in person within the DC metropolitan area (or anywhere if you are willing to pay for it).
For pricing on more complex and involved issues including business analysis and active investment strategy training, please schedule a free consultation so we can evaluate the scope to determining a reasonable price.