FAQs What is financial planning? Financial planning involves developing a complete financial plan for clients based on an extensive analysis of their assets and liabilities. The financial planning process here at Kramer Financial, consists of four steps that help you take a look at where you are financially. Using these steps, you can work out where you are now, what you may need in the future, and what you must do to work towards your goals. Our process involves gathering relevant financial information, setting life goals, examining your current financial status, and coming up with a strategy or plan for how you can address your goals given your current situation and future plans. How does financial planning differ from investing? Investing is a process of financial planning. They both are involved in the whole process of generating a comprehensive wealth management plan. Investing is the key to working towards your long-term financial goals. The key ideas behind investing are production and growth. By investing, you are putting your money to work to produce goods and services with the goal of making a profit. What is the objective of your firm’s financial planning process? Our ultimate objective lies with the development of a long lasting client/advisor relationship in which we accurately guide you to help, manage, and work towards your financial goals. We pursue a disciplined financial planning process because we believe doing so provides the only reliable way to establish an intelligent framework for consistent and rational decision making. Our objective is to help you to connect with your values and correctly address your most important financial goals. Our financial planning process is designed to define a course of deliberate action that can help you today, and in the years to come. What is your firm's financial planning process? Our comprehensive wealth management process consists of four easy steps: Establishing objectives Setting a strategy Implementing the strategy Reviewing the progress. The process begins with our developing a detailed understanding of your personal objectives through one or more face-to-face meetings. We take the time to understand your needs, ultimate objectives, attitudes, time frames, and tolerances for risk. Once we thoroughly understand you, your preferences, and the facts of your case, we conduct a comprehensive analysis of your current wealth management situation. We take great care to identify potential issues and opportunities. We will then present a series of wealth management and investment strategies for your consideration. These recommendations reflect our knowledge of your personal objectives and will help you to focus on your most important financial objectives. Great care is given to provide you with the information necessary to make responsible wealth management decisions. Next, we help you to select and implement these approaches according to your financial plan and asset allocation. Market conditions, your personal situation and your goals will continuously change over time, so our final step is to review our progress. This will involve several meetings and telephone conferences in which we will go over your status, your performance and results, and from our findings, adjust your strategies as needed. What can an LPL Financial Advisor do for me? Offer Prudent and Timely Advice: As an investment professional, a financial advisor has a greater understanding of the economy and markets, more time to evaluate financial strategies, and greater access to comprehensive information. Because our financial professionals are affiliated with LPL Financial as their broker dealer, they can also make use of firsthand research of investments; multiple sources of traditional reviews of individual securities; and proprietary software for integrated estate, retirement, and college planning. Monitor and Manage your Personalized Strategy: A qualified financial advisor can build long-term strategies that balance your financial objectives and constraints, your time horizon, and your tolerances for risk, then measure them against your short-term and long-term goals. Simplify the Decisions: A financial advisor’s job is to pare down the choices- thousands of investments, insurance options, and individual securities- to those that fit your parameters. By identifying appropriate options, including ones that are difficult to discover on your own, and focusing on your objectives, an advisor can save you considerable time and effort. Ensure Accountability: Financial advisors ensure that each entity involved (you, the advisor, and all other suppliers of financial products and services) understands what it must contribute to help make your plans work. What is the best age to start financial planning? While it is true that the younger you start the more beneficial the process will be, financial planning is worthwhile at any age. Although younger people may have more decisions to make regarding their financial lives, changing laws and circumstances can lead middle-aged people and retirees to have to adjust their financial plans as well. Changes in tax law, for example, may require many people to revisit certain investments or estate plans, and adequate disability planning becomes more important as people age. Starting the wealth management process at a young age can not only help you to be more in control and understanding of your financial endeavors, but it can also better prepare you to leave a lasting legacy for future generations Do the LPL Financial Advisors at Kramer Financial have any affiliation with a Broker-Dealer? Yes. In order to provide our clients with appropriate strategies and services, our consultants are registered to offer securities and advisory services through LPL Financial - the country's largest independent broker-dealer in the nation*. * For more information feel free to visit their website at www.lpl.com or visit the About LPL segment of our website. *Based on revenues, as reported by Financial Planning magazine, June 1996-2013. Why should I choose an independent LPL Financial Advisor? LPL Financial is one of the leading financial services companies and the largest independent broker/dealer in the nation*. For more than four decades, the firm has served as an enabling partner, supporting financial advisors in their goals of protecting and growing their clients’ wealth. A chief objective of LPL Financial is to reduce the complexity of running a financial services practice so advisors can focus on what they do best - help their clients attain their financial goals and fulfill their dreams. With headquarters on both coasts, LPL Financial supports financial advisors in helping their clients by offering a robust mix of services and tools such as: - Enabling technology - Comprehensive clearing and compliance services - Practice management programs and training - Independent research LPL Financial understands that providing Americans with unbiased investment advice is critical to their financial security. Because the firm has no proprietary products to sell, LPL Financial advisors can provide truly unbiased, conflict-free advice and investment recommendations. The firm’s mission is clear: We believe that objective financial guidance is a fundamental need for everyone. We enable our customers to focus on what they do best—create the personal, long-term client relationships that are the foundation for turning life’s aspirations into financial realities. Thousands of financial advisors nationwide rely on LPL Financial to help meet their clients’ financial needs. They do so by using the firm’s tools and resources that help them discover their clients’ priorities, dreams, and passions; analyze and develop financial plans that support every stage of their clients’ lives; and make product recommendations that put clients on the path to pursuing their goals. For more information about LPL Financial, visit www.lpl.com How often do you meet with your clients? We are in frequent contact with our clients, including face-to-face meetings, telephone conferences, email blasts, and client events. We typically conduct two to three face-to-face meetings a year which consist of updates and progress of their specific plans in which adjustments, if any, can be made. The frequency and format for our ongoing communication will be determined by the individual preferences, but we pride ourselves in developing relationships with our clients, and with this, comes open and frequent communication. We regard our availability to our clients and our responsiveness to their needs to be a central tenant to our ongoing wealth management plan. Do we have criteria for minimum net worth or income? No. Kramer Financial has not established minimum criteria for client net worth or income. To accept a case, we require that the individuals we will be serving have a true commitment to the long-term disciplines of professional wealth management and we must believe that we can add sufficient value to the case. If we can establish that there exists the potential for a mutually rewarding long-term relationship, we are prepared to help. What is asset allocation? Broadly defined, asset allocation is the apportioning of investment vehicles among categories of assets, such as cash equivalents, stocks, fixed income investments, real estate, precious metals and collectibles. Asset allocation affects both risk and return and is a central concept in personal financial planning and investment management. Asset Allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. What is a 529 plan? A 529 plan is a state-operated investment plan that gives families a federal tax-free way to save money for college. Authorized by Congress in 1996, they are officially known as qualified tuition programs (QTPs), but commonly referred to as "529 plans," "state 529 plans," or "section 529 plans" after the section of the IRS code that provides the plans special tax breaks. 529 plans have become one of the more popular options for families saving for a child’s college education, and for good reason. Although the plans differ from state to state, withdrawals used for qualified expenses are federally tax free, and that can give a real bottom-line boost to your college fund. 529 plans come in two varieties, college savings plans and prepaid tuition plans. Nearly every state has at least one of these two options and many states offer both. College savings plans let parents use their plan funds for college expenses at any college. Prepaid tuition plans let parents lock-in future tuition at in-state public colleges at present prices. Prior to investing in a 529 Plan investors should consider whether the investor's or designated beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state's qualified tuition program. Withdrawals used for qualified expenses are federally tax free. Tax treatment at the state level may vary. Please consult with your tax advisor before investing. IRS Form 5498 Form 5498 reports your total annual contributions to an IRA account and identifies the type of retirement account you have, such as a Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA or SIMPLE IRA. Form 5498 will also report amounts that you roll over or transfer from other types of retirement accounts into this IRA. If you claim a deduction for an IRA contribution, you should reference the amounts on Form 5498. Please note, Form 5498 reports contributions differently depending on the type of IRA that you have. 5498 forms report SEP and SIMPLE IRA contributions made in a specific calendar year. This form will not include contributions made outside the calendar year even though they may be coded as a previous year contribution. 5498 forms report Tradition and Roth IRA contributions for the year they are code. IRS Form 1099 & 1099R What is an IRS Form 1099-R? Form 1099-R is generally used to report designated distributions of $10 or more from pensions, annuities, profit-sharing and retirement plans, IRAs, and insurance contracts. Copies of Form 1099-R are provided to the taxpayer identified on the Form, the Internal Revenue Service and the appropriate state, city or local tax department. 1099-R forms are mailed directly from LPL Financial and you typically have them by the end of January. What is an IRS Form 1099? Form 1099 is generally used to report dividends, interest and capital gains as well as other less common taxable events in a non-retirement account. 1099 forms are mailed directly from LPL Financial and may take as long as mid-February or later to receive. TurboTax Do you use TurboTax to complete your annual taxes? If so, please click here to download LPL Financial TurboTax Instructions. Please note the LPL Financial code for Minnesota is 9056657. ACH - Requests for Electronically Transferred Funds Current clients of Kramer Financial who have a completed ACH Money Request Form on file at our office may request funds and have them electronically transferred directly to their banking institution as long as they have the cash available. This process can take approximately 1 – 5 business days, depending on the type of account you have, given the request was made prior to 11 a.m. CST. If you do not have the funds available in cash and request that investments be liquidated, the process to get the funds electronically transferred to your banking institution will generally be extended by 3 business days.