On April 1st, Brian participated in a financial advisor panel held at Pitkin County Library in Aspen, CO. A transcript of Brian’s remarks can be found below.
MODERATOR: How long have you been in the business?
BRIAN: I’ve been a financial advisor for the past 12 years. I started out working at a wealth management firm down the road in Boulder. Before that, I was an Air Force officer for 8 years.
MODERATOR: Why did you choose line of this business?
BRIAN: This line of business exists at the intersection of two of my favorite pursuits: helping people and personal finance.
MODERATOR: What are your credentials?
BRIAN: I have two Master’s Degrees in Finance and have earned both the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designations. The first designation is pretty much self-explanatory, but the latter designation, the CFA, pertains to possessing a certain level of expertise in investment management.
MODERATOR: Do you have a minimum account size?
BRIAN: Nothing that’s carved in stone, but it’s generally about $500,000 in investable assets.
MODERATOR: Do you act as a fiduciary for your clients?
BRIAN: Yes and at all times. Only about 10% of financial advisors can say that. In my experience, that’s a figure that the investing public is really surprised to hear. Most mistakenly believe that all advisors have to act in their clients’ best interests at all times.
MODERATOR: How do you stand out from the competition?
BRIAN: My firm is completely independent; I’m not attached to, employed by, or affiliated with a larger financial institution somewhere else. Why is that important? It means I’m not pushing their products and services on clients in order to satisfy a corporate boss in Miami or NYC. My bosses are my clients and no one else. Additionally, I act as a fiduciary at all times for my clients, not just when I’m providing certain services. As we mentioned previously, that sets me apart from about 90% of the other advisors out there. Lastly, I specialize in retirement planning. I currently teach the subject as an adjunct professor at two different universities.
MODERATOR: Are financial advisors worth it?
BRIAN: That’s kind of like asking, “Are cars reliable?” They definitely can be. If they’re a competent advisor with a steadfast moral compass, I would say that they become more and more worth it as a client’s or family’s financial situation increases in complexity.
MODERATOR: What services do your provide your clients?
BRIAN: The two major services I provide are financial planning and investment management. Those two services, when combined and provided on an ongoing basis, are usually termed wealth management. I provide all three services.
MODERATOR: Tell us about your investment philosophy and how you get paid.
BRIAN: I adhere to the notion that financial markets in advanced economies are largely efficient. Therefore, I typically employ passive investing strategies by using tax-efficient, low-cost index funds in client accounts. Where financial markets are less efficient, I’m more apt to use active investing strategies.
I only get paid in two ways: either hourly fees for financial planning or a percentage of the assets I manage for investment management and wealth management. I do not sell financial products nor do I receive commissions for putting my clients in certain financial products. My goal isn’t just to find products and services that are suitable for my clients, it’s to find the best products and services for them.
Brian Littlejohn, MBA, CFP®, CFA is a fee-only financial advisor serving clients in Glenwood Springs, CO and beyond. His firm, Sherwood Investment Management, provides investment management, retirement planning, and comprehensive financial planning to help clients organize, grow, and protect their assets. Sherwood Investment Management is completely independent, acts as a fiduciary for its clients at all times, and never accepts commissions of any kind.