A: Just as every client is unique there is no “one size fits all” fee. From a general perspective, Caratel’s fee structure incorporates an initial fee to perform the analysis required and present the findings and recommendations. This is a fixed-fee typically quoted at the end of the initial consultation. A deposit is required prior to the start of the assignment with any balance due upon presentation of the Financial Plan.
Caratel encourages all clients to maintain a long-term relationship with Caratel which includes implementation, monitoring of, reporting on, and updating all aspects of the Financial Plan. We do not “nickel and dime” clients; This “Ongoing Relationship” fee is all inclusive. Importantly, there is no obligation at the beginning of the assignment for the Ongoing Relationship. We want you to experience the depth and quality of Caratel’s work-product while we create your Financial Plan. Once the Financial Plan is presented you can determine whether a long-term relationship will be beneficial.
Caratel’s Ongoing Relationship Fee is typically a sliding scale – stated as a percentage – based upon the value of the investment portfolio being monitored; the greater the value of the portfolio the smaller the percentage. On occasion, a percentage based fee will not be appropriate in which case a retainer type fee arrangement can be discussed. Once an Ongoing Relationship is established it is the only fee paid to Caratel.
Again, this is an overly broad description of Caratel’s fee structure. If you are interested in learning specifics we strongly encourage you to complete and submit Caratel’s Preliminary Financial Planning Questionnaire (https://www.caratel.com/preliminary-financial-planning-questionnaire/) after which we can determine if an Initial consultation is appropriate.
A: It is said that time is our most precious commodity.
We would love to sit down and have an Initial Consultation with each and every prospective client that contacts us. The reality is that, for various reasons, not every prospective client would be a good fit for Caratel’s services and philosophy.
We believe that, for the appropriate prospect, an Initial Consultation is the best way to get to know one another. We offer this service to all qualified prospects. There is no charge for this meeting which provides us with an opportunity to meet, learn about you and your concerns, as well as educate you regarding Caratel and our services. This meeting gives you the opportunity to determine if we are a firm you can trust and if the desired engagement fits with Caratel’s services and philosophy. If we determine this is a great fit for both, at the conclusion of this meeting, we can discuss the exact fees you would incur.
In order to provide us with a broad understanding of your situation we do require that you complete and submit our online Preliminary Financial Planning Questionnaire available via the “Forms” link on Caratel’s web site (hold your cursor over the “Resources” link on the home page and click “Forms” and then “Preliminary Financial Planning Questionnaire”). Doing so will allow us determine if the Initial Consultation is appropriate and make the best use of that oh-so-precious commodity. If we determine that an Initial Consultation is not appropriate we will let you know.
Q: Do you have clients who might be willing to speak with me about your services? Does Caratel provide references?
A: The answer to this question is “yes” but we need to explain why this is not a great answer. First, of course, no advisor would send prospective clients to existing who are not happy with their services, so any such referral needs to be taken in that context. Secondly, and very importantly, while we do occasionally ask existing clients to speak to prospective clients, it is an imposition on those existing clients. All clients are entitled to privacy, and we cannot hand out the names of any clients without their prior approval. Our clients are all busy people who have hired us to help them. While they have been very open and generous in talking about our work, we need to be very careful not to abuse that generosity.
We understand you may still have a desire to speak with an existing client. Therefore, after completion of all of our conversations – including a review of Caratel’s Client Agreement – if your decision to “come on board” with Caratel is contingent on your speaking with a current client we will provide you with references. We will do so with your verbal assurance that this is the only obstacle preventing you from beginning your relationship with Caratel.