Frequently Asked Questions
How do your services compare with those of large Wall Street firms?
As an independent fee-only investment advisor, Zhang Financial upholds fiduciary duty to all clients. We are responsible for providing fair and full disclosure of all material facts and must act solely in the best interests of our clients at all times—we have no “hidden agenda” through commissions or other incentive to sell any particular financial product that is not optimal for our clients’ financial well-being. As a NAPFA-Registered Fee-Only Financial Advisor we have committed ourselves to working within the highest ethical standards.
We believe working with a fiduciary fee-only financial advisor is crucial. Many advisors may misrepresent themselves as being fee-only because it is preferred by most clients. The best way to ensure your financial advisor is a truly fee-only CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM is by visiting NAPFA's website at http://www.napfa.org/. We have also prepared a video describing fee-only vs. fee-based and commission-based financial advisors. The link is below:
How are my assets kept safe?
Zhang Financial utilizes the custodial services of LPL Financial—the largest independent broker/dealer in the United States for over fourteen consecutive years, Charles Schwab - the #1 custodian for independent advisors, and TD Ameritrade, a renowned industry leader in financial technology and client service. All client statements are printed and mailed by the custodian (LPL Financial, Charles Schwab, or TD Ameritrade) directly. All cash distributions are made directly to the account owner's address of record or bank account by the custodian. LPL Financial, Charles Schwab, and TD Ameritrade hold SIPC and private insurance policies to insure each client's portfolio in the case of unauthorized actions within their investment accounts.
What type of clientele do you serve?
Our clients are intelligent, kind, diligent and often times leaders within their industry. A Zhang Financial client is seeking a long term professional relationship built on trust and on-going unbiased investment counsel. Many of our clients have had experience with self-management or with the traditional financial advisory sales model. Zhang Financial clients recognize the need for professional, objective, and competent advice to manage their wealth successfully.
What is the minimum for assets under management?
The investment requirement for new clients of Zhang Financial is $1,000,000 in Michigan and $2,000,000 outside of Michigan. This minimum amount refers to cash, stocks, and various investment accounts available to be managed directly by Zhang Financial.
How does Zhang Financial work with new clients?
Our process to plan for your finances is customized for your personal situation. Our firm-wide general guidelines for the financial planning process are as follows:
Step 1: Identify and Prioritize Objectives - You will meet with one of our financial advisors to discuss your goals, concerns and needs to develop a clear vision of your financial future.
Step 2: Gather Information - We will ask you for various documents including tax returns, trusts, insurance policies and retirement plans for us to review.
Step 3: Analyze Information - We will review your risk tolerance, current investment positions, tax concerns, unrealized gains and other important information while developing recommendations.
Step 4: Develop Your Personal Financial Plan - Charles Zhang will create a personalized investment strategy, portfolio and financial plan for you after analyzing your information.
Step 5: Take Action - Your Zhang Financial Team will implement the recommendations and changes suggested in your financial plan. Any items you need to address should also be taken care of during this step (i.e. making changes within your employer 401k plan).
Step 6: Review Your Progress - We will hold periodic service meetings to review your portfolio progress and re-evaluate your goals. Financial planning is an ongoing process and is important that your investment strategy is in alignment with your investment goals.
How do you service your clients on an ongoing basis?
We ask all of our clients to commit to bi-annual portfolio reviews. By adopting a holistic approach to financial planning, we manage and advise on all aspects of our clients’ financial situation, including but not limited to: tax planning, investment planning, retirement planning, insurance planning, education planning, and estate planning. In the event we are unable to provide needed expertise, we consult with our trusted affiliates, which include local CPA firms and attorneys. Because financial planning is an ongoing, dynamic process, we offer our clients services such as periodic service meetings and portfolio re-balancing. As your needs change, we adjust our investment strategy to optimize your current financial situation.
What types of investments do you utilize?
As independent advisors, we enjoy access to thousands of no-load mutual funds, DFA funds, ETFs and alternative investments. Free from the constraints imposed by propriety products and investment banking relationships, we work with our clients to determine which investment options are best suited to their unique financial situation.
What is the advantage of using a team-based approach over separate franchises?
Many large financial advisory practices house several financial advisors that share compliance and administrative duties; however, they all operate independently in terms of investment management and client service. Thus, the client receives a different experience, investment products and most likely differing performance depending on which advisor they have a relationship with.
At Zhang Financial we practice a team-based, collaborative approach to serving your investment needs. Charles Zhang and his research team provide investment research, perform due diligence and make investment recommendations for a consistent firm-wide strategy. Charles’ team of Client Service Managers and Financial Advisors meet with clients to communicate recommendations and address client questions. Our team approach enables us to blend multiple fields of specialties and expertise to best service your assets.
Why is Charles on the list of Barron’s Top 100 Independent Advisors and not on the list of Barron’s Top 100 Advisors?
Barron’s List of Top 100 Advisors ONLY includes advisors who are licensed to sell commissioned products (FINRA licensed). In other words, only advisors who are compensated by commissions only or a combination of commissions and fees are able to participate in the Barron’s List of Top 100 Advisors rankings. Charles is a fee-only advisor, he does not hold commission licenses, which precludes him from participating in the Top 100 rankings. Barron’s ranks fee-only advisors on the Top Independent Advisor list.
What designations do you hold? Which ones matter?
The Zhang Financial Team takes pride in holding the most prestigious designations and credentials in the industry including:
- CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®)
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
- Masters in Business Administration (MBA)
- MS in Accountancy
- PhD and MA in Economics
- MS in Financial Services (MSFS)
- Chartered Financial Counselor (ChFC)
- Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)
It is important to note that not all designations are equally rigorous. While the CFP® requires an extensive background check, comprehensive coursework, successfully passing a ten-hour, 285-question exam, at least three years of experience in the financial planning industry, the fulfillment of numerous requirements concerning standards of professional conduct and the adherence to strict fiduciary standards, certain designations are earned with just a few days of coursework. If you run into a designation that was not included in the list above, we encourage you to do your research to find out the requirements for obtaining these designations as many credentials only require paying a fee and minimum training and coursework.
We have prepared a video entitled "Not All Financial Designations are Equal". Please see the link to the video below:
Is Zhang Financial registered on any Financial Advisor search-based websites?
Yes, Zhang Financial is registered only on Smart Asset. Many search-based websites charge advisors hefty recurring fees. For example, advisors who use Zoe Financial, are charge a hefty, ongoing fee (18-25% of revenue depending on the size of the assets) for successfully onboarded clients. To avoid these expenses, Zhang Financial does not participate in this type of search-based website. Rather by using Smart Asset, Zhang is charged only a small one-time fee for potential leads.
Some other programs, such as Charles Schwab’s referral program, cause the advisors to incur expensive fees. Often, these costs will get pushed back onto the client, in the form of increased advisory fees. If you are currently working with an advisor that you found through a referral-based program, we strongly encourage you to bring your portfolio to Zhang Financial. We are confident that our all-in rate will be highly competitive with your current costs.
Also, please be wary when searching for advisors on these referral-based websites. It may not be an effective way to find someone to trust your life savings with. The advisors you find on these types of sites are generally the ones who are willing to pay the associated fees, that will likely just get pushed back onto you, the client. If you do select an advisor from one of these search-based websites, be sure to complete your due diligence by reviewing the firm’s ADV.
To find an advisor you can trust, we recommend visiting https://www.napfa.org/find-an-advisor
Minimum investment requirement: $1,000,000 in Michigan, $2,000,000 outside of Michigan.
Investment Advice offered through Zhang Financial, a Fee-Only Wealth Management Group.