Frequently Asked Questions
+ What is a fiduciary?
A fiduciary has the highest ethical obligation to put your interests ahead of their compensation and any other considerations. We are fiduciaries – this is a fundamental value of ours and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
+ Why should I hire you instead of doing this myself?
As humans, we face many psychological biases that prevent us from achieving financial success. According to Bloomberg, from 1996-2015 the average investor returned a measly 2.11% while the S&P 500 averaged 8.19%. One of the primary reasons for this deficiency is the emotional aspect of managing your own money. As a fiduciary to you, we will help construct investment strategies that will maximize your returns given your comfort level with investment risk.
But beyond returns, there are many ways we can add value that do not show up on your performance reports. For example, we can look at ways to help you reduce your expenses, reduce the risks you face in your life, and get on the right side of compounding interest.
As an independent financial planning practice, Ballast Point FP is set up to avoid conflicts of interest. You should hire us if you want someone to provide peace of mind around your money and reduce the financial stress you feel in your life.
+ Who is your typical client?
Our typical client is a young professional, or family, who is smart, driven, and enjoys living life. You may be able to manage your own finances effectively if you put the time and effort into it. But because of the inherent emotional aspects of managing your finances, specifically the fear of the markets, and the time commitment required, you prefer to delegate the financial stressors in your life to a professional.
+ What is your investment philosophy?
We believe in passive investment management. We don’t believe that you can beat the market, but we think that you are entitled to get market rates of return. We believe in keeping your investment fees as low as possible, harvesting losses when applicable, and rebalancing when appropriate.
We believe you should focus on the things you can control, like how much risk are you comfortable with, using compounding growth to its full potential and minimizing your taxes.
+ Who is NOT a good fit for Ballast Point?
If you believe that you can beat the market, are interested in trying to time the market, or want to pick “cocktail” stocks, we probably are not a good fit for each other. We do not think you can beat the market, but we do demand that we get market returns out of your portfolio. That is why we select low-cost investments that are best-of-breed so we can focus on things you can control.
+ Do I have to come into your office?
No. We can meet virtually over Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, telephone, or whichever method of communication is convenient for you. We are set up this way so we can meet you wherever you are, regardless if you live locally or across the country. This will also save you time commuting to our office so we can meet at a time that is convenient for you. If you would like to meet outside of normal business hours, just send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
+ Do I have to pay for the first meeting?
No. We believe that everyone should have access to a qualified independent financial advisor. Thus, the first meeting will be free. So bring your financial questions with you. If we aren't a good fit to work together, we will point you in the right direction.
+ What is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation?
Most consumers believe that all financial planners are "certified," but this isn't true. Anyone can call themselves a "financial planner;" however, only those who have fulfilled the certification requirements of the CFP Board can display the CFP® certification marks, which represent a high level of competency, ethics and professionalism.
It is recognized in the United States and a number of other countries for its (1) high standard of professional education; (2) stringent code of conduct and standards of practice; and (3) ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients. – See more at the CFP Board's website.
+ How do you get paid?
We are a fee-only financial planning firm, which means our only compensation comes from the services we provide to you. We do not get paid any commissions, kick backs, “trails,” or any other fees other than from the fees we charge you. We are held to the fiduciary standard, which means we have to act in your best interest regardless of the compensation we receive. We believe this is the fairest form of compensation and aligns our interests with yours. To learn more about our services and pricing, click here.
+ I need help getting out of debt, can you help me?
Yes. Together we can come up with a debt reduction strategy.
+ I’d like to learn more, what is the next step?
Click here to schedule a get to know you meeting.
+ Why did you name your firm Ballast Point?
Ballast Point is the name of a spot at the end of Point Loma in San Diego, CA where ships would load up on heavy rocks to prepare for their long voyage around Cape Horn. The rocks would add ballast to the ship to provide stability in case of rough seas. In terms of your finances, we will provide balance and stability to your many conflicting financial priorities such as spending now vs. saving for the future.
On a personal note, Shawn and his wife got engaged at an overlook with a view of a different Ballast Point. This overlook is located near the town of Two Harbors, which is on the island of Catalina.
To be clear, we do not have any affiliation with Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, but we do enjoy their beers and their tasting room is beautiful.
+ Do you work with people outside of California?
Yes. We work with clients who live across the country. No matter where yoou live in the US, we can work together. We are currently registered in California and Maryland, but we can provide services in other states as well.
+ Is my money safe?
Your money is held at a custodian bank, which is insured by the SIPC for up to $500,000 per account type and are protected against losses resulting from the failure of the broker-dealer. Please note, unlike FDIC insurance for banks, SIPC does not protect against losses due to normal swings in the market. An explanatory brochure is available at http://www.sipc.org.