Frequently Asked Questions

Company Information

What is unique about Think Different Financial Planning?

Our primary differentiators are:

  1. Flat-Fee Pricing: Our straightforward pricing model is transparent and easy to understand. We do not charge based on how much money you have to invest.
  2. In-Depth Financial Planning: We take the time to understand the details of your financial life in order to maximize your savings, minimize your taxes, optimize your investments, and ensure you are moving in the right direction financially.
  3. Passive Investment Management: Instead of trying to outperform the market we utilize low-cost, tax-efficient investments that track the market. This approach outperforms the vast majority of active managers who attempt to beat their investment benchmark.

    Why did you name your firm Think Different Financial Planning?

    “Think Different” is a hat tip to Apple’s old slogan, and indicates our specialization in working with professionals who are employed at publicly-traded technology companies.

    “Think Different” also conveys that we are a “different” type of financial planning company: one with a unique pricing structure and investment philosophy.

    Who is your typical client?

    Our clients tend to be professionals employed at private or publicly-traded technology companies. 

    Our clients appreciate our transparent pricing, passive investment approach, have a high income, and a net worth of $500,000 – $5,000,000.

    Who is NOT a good fit for Think Different Financial Planning?

    If you are looking for someone who can beat the market, time the market, make individual stock picks, or invest with leverage, we are probably not a good fit for each other.

    We do not think you can beat the market, but we do demand that you get market returns from your portfolio. That is why we select low-cost, tax-efficient investments that are best-of-breed. It gives the investment portfolio the best chance of providing a good return, while allowing us to focus on the items in your financial life that we can control.

    Do you work with people outside of California?

    Yes, we’re able to work with anyone in the United States.

    What is a fiduciary?

    A fiduciary is a person who is legally bound to make recommendations that are in the best interest of the client. If we do not act in your best interests we are legally liable. It’s a big deal and something we take seriously.

    What is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation?

    The CFP is the gold standard of financial planning designations.

    It is recognized for its high standard of professional education, its stringent code of conduct and standards of practice, and the ethical requirements that govern professional engagements with clients.

    Learn more at the CFP Board’s website.

    Cost and Services

    How much will this cost?

    The cost for our services is one easy-to-understand, flat, annual retainer fee of $6,800/year. No hidden fees. This fee includes our holistic financial planning and investment management services.

    We charge quarterly in advance. We withdraw our fee from either your checking account, your savings account, or your managed investment accounts.

    Learn more on our Fees page.

    Do I have to pay for the first meeting?

    No. We believe that everyone should have access to a qualified and independent financial advisor. Learn more about our Onboarding Process.

    If we are not a good fit we will point you in the right direction!

    What are your services?

    We are a financial planning and investment management company.

    To help you get from where you are today to where you want to go, we develop a plan that integrates your income, expenses, assets, liabilities, tax situation, employee benefits, and unique goals.

    In addition to our financial planning work, we manage and regularly review your investments. We invest with a long-term outlook and a risk profile that aligns with your financial plan, helping you earn an appropriate return in order to help you achieve your financial goals. This process incorporates both your desire and ability to handle investment risk.

    Learn more about our Financial Planning and Investment Management Services.

    Why should I hire you instead of doing this myself?

    Clients hire us because they do not have the time, knowledge, or desire to manage their finances.

    Most people hire a CPA for tax advice, an attorney for legal advice, and a doctor for health advice. A financial planner is no different. We’re professionals who help our clients maximize their savings, investing, and spending, while also helping with the emotional aspects of investing. An added benefit is that we help our clients automate their finances with little maintenance required.

    Hire us if you want someone to provide peace of mind around your money and reduce the financial stress in your life.

    Working Together

    How often do we meet?

    Once the initial process is complete and you have a solid financial foundation, you choose how often we meet. At a minimum we like meet once a year. Most clients choose to meet semi-annually.

    Importantly, there is no cap to how many times we can meet per year, and we are always available for a call, video conference, or over email.

    Where is your office?

    I work from a detached home office located at 1144 Saint Francis Street in Redwood City. The office is newly renovated, overlooks our garden, and can comfortably seat three people.

    Do I have to come to your office?

    No. If you prefer not to meet at Think Different Financial Planning’s office, we can meet online, at your office, or at your home, depending on your location and preference.

    What times do meetings occur?

    We want to meet at a time that works for you. If you work during the day or care for your family, we get it. Mornings, evenings and weekends are all on the table. 3 am might be pushing it, but we’ll do our best to accommodate your schedule!

    What happens if I want to leave?

    If you don’t find our services valuable anymore you can leave any time without penalty or repercussions. You are not locked in and there is no fee for leaving.

    If you have already paid us for the quarter we will refund the prorated amount. In addition, our Value Pledge allows you the option to request up to one year worth of fees paid as a refund. Our number one goal is happy clients, and we’ve set up this refund policy to provide assurance that we take customer service seriously.

    Investment Management

    What are your investment returns?

    Our regulators do not allow us to publicly share investment performance. We are, however, allowed to share this information during one-on-one conversations.

    If you would like to learn more, please Schedule a Meeting.

    What is your investment philosophy?

    We invest in a diversified, low-cost, tax-efficient manner using passive exchange-traded funds.

    We don’t believe that you can beat the market, but think you are entitled to get market rates of return.

    We emphasize keeping your investment fees as low as possible. For example, the expense ratios for our portfolios costs .05% to .07% annually ($50 to $70 per year for every $100,000 invested).

    In addition, we harvest tax losses when applicable and rebalance when appropriate. Learn more about our Investment Philosophy.

    Who manages my investments?

    We partner with First Ascent Asset Management to act as our investment management and operations team. They are based in Denver, Colorado, and are singularly focused on supporting financial advisors and managing portfolios.

    The First Ascent team provides critical back office support, such as: portfolio construction, trading, rebalancing, portfolio performance reporting, investment and economic research, account opening, and support services.

    The First Ascent team is comprised of a talented group of financial industry veterans who share Think Different’s commitment to a fiduciary standard of care.

    Learn more about First Ascent Asset Management.

    Do you HAVE to manage my investments?

    No. If you prefer to manage the operational aspects of your investments that is not a problem. We will recommend an investment allocation for you to implement and rebalance over time.

    Please note, if we do not manage your investments we will be unable to provide details about your investment performance or assist with the operational aspects of your accounts (e.g., account transfers, trading, or interacting with Schwab).

    Is there an account minimum required to work with you?

    No. We have no account minimums. We can work with you regardless of how much money you have.

    If you manage my money, where are the accounts held?

    All our clients assets are held at Schwab.

    I’d like to learn more. What are the next steps?

    Click below to schedule a complimentary introduction meeting.