Frequently Asked Questions

Company Information

What is unique about Think Different Financial Planning?

  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 work at technology companies.

“Think Different” also conveys that we are a different type of financial advisor: 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. They typically have an income that is $250,000 or more with a net worth between $500,000 – $10,000,000.

Our clients appreciate our transparent pricing, passive investment philosophy, and personalized approach.

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 not a good fit.

We do not think you can beat the market, but we do demand that you get market returns. That is why we select low-cost, tax-efficient investments that are best-of-breed. It gives the 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 are 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 $7,800/year. No hidden fees. This  includes our financial planning and investment management service.

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. The first meeting is free.

Learn more about our Onboarding Process.

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 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.

Do you work on an hourly basis?

No. At this point we are only working with clients who are looking for a long-term relationship. Financial planning and investing is a long-term process, and from experience we have found that working together over time leads to better results than a one-time plan.

Why should I hire you instead of doing this myself?

Clients hire us because they do not have the time, knowledge, or interest 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 are 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 minimal ongoing maintenance.

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

Investment Management

Is there an account minimum?

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

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.

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.

Is investment management required?

Yes. Think Different Financial Planning is only accepting new clients who want to outsource the operational aspects of their investment management.

By managing at least one account at Schwab we can provide you with a better overall client experience, such as:

– Assist with the account-opening process.
– Trade your account(s). This allows us to rebalance, automatically invest additional contributions (or automate the withdrawal process if you’re retired), tax-loss harvest, and help you divest concentrated stock positions.
– Provide quarterly performance reports.
– Monitor your investment allocation and recommend changes when appropriate.

Where are my investments held?

All our clients assets are held at Schwab.

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.

Working Together

How often do we meet?

Once the initial process is complete and you have a solid financial foundation, we typically meet 2-4 times per year.

There is no cap to how many times we meet, and we are always available for a call, video conference, or via email.

Each quarter you will also receive an investment performance report and our written quarterly commentary.

Can we meet in person?

Yes. In-person meetings are held in WeWork or Regus conference rooms throughout the Bay Area, ideally located near your work or home. 

Where is your office?

The business is run from a detached home office located at 1144 Saint Francis Street in Redwood City.

What if I want to leave?

If you do not find our service valuable anymore, you can leave any time. 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 pro-rated amount.

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

Click below to schedule a complimentary introduction meeting.