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Frequently Asked Questions

Clarifying pricing methods: "Flat Fee" vs. "Fee Only" vs. "percent of assets under management"?

Flat Fee means just that - clients pay an agreed upon annual fee based on specific client needs and complexity. No hidden fees, no commissions, no revenue kickbacks from investment companies, A Flat Fee doesn’t change when portfolio size grows due to addition of assets or growth due to market performance.

“Fee-Only” or Fee-Based” is simply a more concise expression of "% of Assets under Management” pricing.  Both approaches tie a client’s external advisory fee to the level of assets a client has with an advisor. The fee is a "%" of the assets under management. Advisors using this pricing strategy will often have added verbiage that some investment recommendations will have “product specific commissions” attached and these will be disclosed at time of recommendation. Remember – “Financial products are sold” not recommended.

What is a “Fiduciary” and why is it important?

A financial fiduciary is obligated by oath to act with prudent skill, care and diligence exclusively for the benefit of the client (“loyalty”). Additionally, the client’s financial interests must be the priority  with every conversation and strategy recommendation.

A relationship with a fiduciary eliminates the potential for an advisor to have financial conflicts of interests when implementing investment strategies.  Those advisors not acting in a fiduciary capacity must only meet a loosely defined “suitability standard” when advising a client. This means the recommendation made is merely “suitable” for a client with his or her goals and objectives – with no requirement of “a client’s financial best interest”. 

What about Confidentiality and Credibility?

We adhere to the belief that credibility takes years to build and seconds to lose. There is no easier way for an advisor to lose credibility than to violate a client’s confidentiality. Your business is your business – and, our business to is to keep your business “yours”!


What is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA)?

A CDFA is a financial professional certified to assist and guide people thru the specific money issues that come up during a divorce. A CDFA must complete the requisite coursework and initial testing as well as participate in significant ongoing continuing educational coursework dedicated to this unique niche of financial expertise.

If you and your spouse have assets of significant value, understanding the myriad of potential outcomes tend to be quite complicated. The financial ramifications of poor or hasty financial decisions will have far-reaching implications as you embark on your life’s new normal. A CDFA will help you slow the process down and focus on the long-term outcomes of short term decisions.

Piedmont will work exclusively with one party in a divorcing couple. We are not lawyers or CPAs, but we will seamlessly interface with your team. A full scope of Piedmont's process will be outlined during an initial meeting.

What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP)?

A Certified Financial Planner™ or CFP® has pledged themselves to a career-long commitment of meeting the complex and ever changing financial needs of his or her clients. A CFP® must complete an series of advanced college-level coursework addressing the vast components of financial planning. These subject areas have been identified by the CFP Board as necessary for delivering sound and pertinent client centered financial planning services.

Additionally, a CFP® helps individuals/families get their “financial house” in order at both a macro level (investments, retirement, insurance, taxes, estate planning, charitable gifting) and micro level (household cashflow.)

Professionals holding the CFP® marks are regarded for their, high standard of education, stringent code of conduct/standards of practice; and ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients.

What role does Raymond James play in my relationship?

We have aligned with Raymond James to serve our clients in several capacities. Founded in 1962 and publicly traded since 1983, Raymond James provides PWA staff and our clients with the following essential services, custodian of all client assets, asset valuation and statement generation, complete interactive online experience and compliance & legal oversight, market and investment thought leadership, ongoing financial technology innovation and much more.

What is an Independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA)?

Independent registered investment advisors are held to the fiduciary standard, as outlined in the Investment Advisors Act of 1940  (see earlier FAQ). Many independent advisors are former employees of the well known national brokerage firms who simply grew tired of the “firm revenue first” approach that drives those business models. Independent RIA’s have the flexibility (by choice) to utilize strategies that are entirely in the client’s financial best interest. Independent advisors do not have increasingly higher annual revenue goals established by brokerage firm management. Higher revenue means higher compensation payout for an advisor at national brokerage firms. In contrast, independent advisors tend to be far more transparent and have — if any — financial conflicts of interest.