Modern Dollar Planning is a fee-only firm that focuses on helping people make better decisions with money. 

As of December 2014, I had a great job at a respected company that did exemplary financial planning and investment management work with high net worth clients.  I worked with bright colleagues and had interesting clients in what was a great long term opportunity.

But I felt a call to do something different.

During my time there, I had personal friends, classmates from my MBA program and other acquaintances begin coming to me looking for help with their finances. Most of these folks were in their 30’s and 40’s. The question they kept asking was: Could I become a client of yours?”

Unfortunately, the answer was all too often "No".

Most firms that act as fiduciaries have minimums that my young friends and colleagues don’t meet. They are forced to go elsewhere for advice and are often 'sold' financial products that in many cases, might not be right for them. 

With Modern Dollar Planning, I've developed a package that will set young professionals on a new financial trajectory. This new model will allow my peers to get access to the type of quality, objective advice with no minimum account size.  I now have the chance to pair my background as a CFP® and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis with my deep-seated passion for entrepreneurship.

It's an opportunity to help my peers start making smart financial decisions, simply and confidently.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

On a personal note...

2015 was very exciting as I launched Modern Dollar and welcomed our daughter Vera. I’m a huge hockey fan and still play a few times a week. I love being active, be it biking, snowboarding or swimming. I’m also a novice cook and amateur furniture maker. My wife Caroline works for Washington University at St. Louis Children’s hospital as a nurse practitioner in the hematology/oncology division. One of our dreams is to take a month off each summer, rent an RV and travel around the country.

Enough about me. How about you? Let’s meet.

+ What makes you different from the rest of the investment and financial planning firms out there?

We’re part of a small group of young, forward thinking advisors that want to bring objective financial planning to the next generation. We don’t have high minimums. There are no hidden fees. Our goal is to let you live your best life.

We offer you an unbiased partnership built to serve you in a way that fits into your life by making the best use of technology to save you time while planning for your future.

+ What is your account minimum?

$0. While we certainly have the platform and skills needed to serve high net worth clients, We built this firm with the idea of being able to help, regardless of current assets. Requiring significant assets to start working with a planner seems backwards to us. We’re here to help whether you already have a nest egg or you're just getting started.

+ Is Modern Dollar Planning right for me?

Modern Dollar Planning is focused on helping clients with their sights set on early financial independence. If you feel like you have traction with your career, but not sure you’re making all the right financial moves, we can help.

+ I’m not in St. Louis. Can we still work together?

Absolutely. With technology, we have the ability to effectively help clients all over the country. In some cases, meeting virtually actually helps us make our meetings even more efficient. You can meet with us from the comfort of your own couch instead of a stuffy office. For those in St. Louis, we’re more than happy to meet in person.

+ Who is not the right type of client for Modern Dollar Planning?

If you want an advisor that is going to give you hot stock tips or tell you where the market is headed tomorrow, or next month, we’re not the place. We don’t believe the financial sorcery that tries to predict the future. Instead, we believe in an academically tested, low cost, disciplined investment philosophy.

If you aren’t ready to put some effort into changing your financial trajectory, you might not be ready to work with Modern Dollar Planning. While we are your financial accountability partner, you are an important part of the equation in this relationship. The first 3-6 months of our partnership together requires regular dialogue to get you organized. We work with clients that are motivated to provide us information, talk to us about their goals and willing to make changes. Our most satisfied clients are the ones keep us updated with what is going on in their lives.

If you’re averse to using technology to manage your financial life, you may not be comfortable with Modern Dollar Planning. We often meet virtually and communicate by phone, email or other electronic means. We’re not big fans of paper statements, long forms or snail mailed correspondence.

+ How do you get paid?

Modern Dollar Planning is what the financial industry refers to as a “fee-only” company. What does that mean to you?... It means we are paid only by our clients. We receive no referral fees from other professionals, no kickbacks or commissions from recommending products or income from anyone but our clients. This allows us to give you unbiased advice. Our only incentive is to make you happy and want to continue our relationship. This is not the way that all financial professionals operate. We urge you to make sure you understand how your advisor is being compensated.

+ How does the relationship work?

The process for comprehensive planning typically follows this outline:

We always start with a free 30 minute, introductory phone call, virtual or face to face meeting. We learn more about you and you get to ask questions about the Modern Dollar process.

If it’s a good fit, we’ll start the planning process. You’ll get a welcome kit that will contain several pieces to get us started: a link to a secure questionnaire so we can learn more about where you are financially, a link to a secure vault so we can share documents and a link for you to sign an electronic agreement and set up payment.

After we to digest this information, we’ll have our first planning meeting. Here we'll present a comprehensive review of where you stand today, tweaks to make your more successful and we’ll lay out the path to execute those changes. Sometimes, we’ll spread this over two meetings if we have a lot to cover.

We’ll then help make sure the changes get executed. Some examples of these changes might include: working with an estate planning attorney to get new (or change existing) documents, putting new life insurance policies in place, changing contribution amounts or selection of investments in your employer’s retirement package, moving investment accounts (see our investing page), opening new account for education savings, setting up a dedicated emergency fund, changing your student debt plan or monitoring your cash flow.

We typically meet again about a month after our first meeting to recap the changes and check in to make sure everything has been done. We’ve probably traded a few emails or calls through that process as well. Keep in mind, our job is to make this process as painless as possible for you while holding you accountable and getting you organized.

After this setup process, we want to meet with you periodically to get updates and also let you know if we see adjustments that need to be made to your financial plan. Keep in mind, the only thing we can guarantee you is that your life and the world will change from the time we set things up. This means that we’ll need to be proactively looking for opportunities and challenges to keep you on track.

Between meetings, we welcome you to reach out as life happens. We want you to contact us if you have any questions or worries that can’t wait for our next meeting. We want to be your first call when something comes up in your financial life.

+ Can you help me find a good attorney or tax preparer?

Absolutely. We work closely with our clients' team of professionals. If you need help in preparing your taxes or estate documents we can direct you to vetted professionals in areas all over the country. We receive no compensation for any referrals we offer so you can be confident that you’ll get an objective suggestion.

+ What is your philosophy when it comes to investing?

We believe that markets are efficient. This means that we don’t believe any investor can consistently choose the right stocks or decide when it’s time to get in or out of the market through active management. Active methods typically lead to to higher expenses, more transaction costs and higher taxes, which causes underperformance in the long run.

Instead, we rely on the work that has been done by academics showing that a globally diversified, low cost portfolio of indexes gives you the best chance of success. Diversification and cost are critical. We invest in baskets of stocks through exchange traded funds (ETF’s) that in some cases cost 1/10 of a comparable actively managed mutual fund in the same asset class. Those indexes include large and small US companies, international stocks, emerging markets and bonds spanning the globe.

Together, we decide on an allocation that fits our clients’ desire, willingness and need to take risk and build a portfolio accordingly. After setting a portfolio in place, we monitor it daily to ensure that as markets move, we keep your assets in balance. This process, known as rebalancing, aims to take the emotion out of investing to keep you on track to meet your goals.

+ What if I decide a few months in that I don’t want to be a client?

Our clients can cancel their ongoing planning arrangement at any time. You should feel that you are getting value for your money. We are big believers in transparency. We believe that this transparency sets us apart. You should know what you’re paying any professional. We build trust by putting everything on the table and letting you decide if you’re getting the value you seek in managing your financial life. Part of that is not tying you up in a long term agreement. You’re free to discontinue at any point. Your investments are yours to transfer to another custodian if it’s not working out for you.

+ This sounds interesting. I have more questions.

Send us an email or click here to schedule a free intro call. We charge nothing for an introductory meeting to see if it’s a good fit.