What do I need to bring to my consultation session?

Prior to our initial face-to-face consultation, you will receive a welcome packet from our office that includes detailed information about the firm and answers to common questions. Please review this packet so that we can answer any remaining questions you may have at our meeting. In addition, you should bring basic financial documents that help us understand your situation: Investment statements, work open enrollment information (if applicable), any life/disability or long-term care insurance policies, annuity contracts, mortgage and debt statements and existing estate planning documents.

What deliverables do you provide in an engagement?

Artisan Financial Strategies has two primary client offerings that vary in scope and deliverables. Our Financial Advisor offering provides a balance sheet, detailed cash flow statement, analysis on existing accounts and policies and an executive summary citing our recommendations. Our Private CFO offering provides the same deliverables as well as scenario stress testing that is relevant to your situation (e.g. Do I have enough money to retire if there is a bear market? Do I still need to retain this life insurance policy?). In addition, Private CFO services include a high level of client guidance and interaction (or hand-holding, as some clients call it) along with integrative communication and coordination with your CPA and estate planning attorney.

I thought advisors just managed money. What role do you have
in this process?

We believe that an advisor’s role truly extends past investment account management. We have a planning-centric, planning-first philosophy and believe every financial action should start with a financial blueprint that is central to all decisions. Your blueprint should drive choices of many kinds including determining appropriate risk in accounts, beneficiary designations, amount of insurance coverage, investment selection, where to tax money, how to optimize for tax savings, whether and when to pay down debt, strategies on funding a college education/new car/vacation home, participating in the ESOP or 401k allocation at work, etc. If I’m in on the case, I’m ALL in. That means every aspect of your financial life falls under the umbrella of Artisan Financial’s comprehensive financial planning services.

How often do you schedule reviews?

We don’t believe in meeting just to meet; everyone is too busy. Depending on the scope and nature of the engagement, we at least meet once a year in person or online via Zoom or GoToMeeting. Generally speaking, we like to schedule two check-in calls throughout the year to make sure things are on track. However, that is a minimum. We are always available for our planning clients and serve as their 911 and 411 on all things financial. If you have a question or concern at any time, we want to hear from you!

How much does an engagement cost?

While this sounds like what a lawyer would say (and we have many as clients), it depends. The bigger the scope of the project and services, the greater the fee. Rest assured that in our initial face-to-face consultation we work hard to understand your situation and needs in order to determine which of our client offerings (and associated fee structure) are in your best interest. When our fee and services don’t align with a potential client’s situation and goals, we don’t hesitate to refer you to other advisors. As we bring in additional advisors, new client offerings continue to expand to align with a broader range of client profiles.

How long will this process take the first year?

What should I expect in subsequent years?

Following development and implementation of your financial plan in the initial service year, most clients choose to renew with us for continued oversight of the financial plan and assistance in resolving other financial questions and issues that pop up throughout the year. You also have the option not to renew. In that event, we will simply continue to oversee any investment accounts or insurance policies that were initiated as part of your financial plan.

Can you just manage an investment account for us?

We can, but we are planning-focused and believe that prognosis without diagnosis is malpractice. We strongly prefer to manage client investment accounts in the context of a full financial plan so we can incorporate the complete fact pattern to support your investment choices – things like your tax bracket, the intended purpose of invested funds, your investment horizon, etc.

Can you just write an insurance policy for us?

Again, we can do this but believe we can serve you far more effectively when we understand the nuances of your financial and personal situation. Things like cash flow, current health history, beneficiary strategies (outright to your family vs. through a trust for asset protection purposes) are all major considerations that should guide your selection of insurance products

I need a new attorney or CPA. Can you refer us to someone?

We are happy to provide multiple referrals for legal and accounting professionals. Our extensive network allows us to help you find the ideal attorney or CPA to meet your needs. In addition, our alliance with other financial advisors across the country enables us to provide out-of-state clients with guidance regarding specific competencies and fee ranges of potential service providers.

Do you do estate planning and what is your role vs. the lawyer?

Estate planning documents must be drawn up by an attorney, and we are not attorneys. However, formulating the best strategy to meet your goals for your financial legacy is an important component of estate planning. Attorneys cannot provide this service. We guide you through the process of determining goals, flowchart how your assets and life insurance would pass, establish optimal paths to achieve desired outcomes, and ensure that all the details are completed so that your estate plan can go into effect without complications. In addition, we take the lead in coordinating with estate attorneys and other professionals to complete the estate planning process.

How do I know if you can help me?

While financial planning is important for everyone, Artisan Financial Strategies focuses on meeting the needs of clients who have achieved a certain degree of financial success. Our services aren’t the right fit for everyone. In these situations, we don’t hesitate to refer potential clients to other providers that can provide services better matched to the individual client profile. If we believe working with AFS is not in your best interest, we will always communicate this immediately. We only work with clients for whom we sincerely believe we are the best option.

As a business owner, why do I need a financial advisor?

Business owners often have the majority of their personal wealth tied up in the business and real estate. Without a substantial investment portfolio or a transactional relationship, successful entrepreneurs may have difficulty gaining access to elite, top-performing advisors. In addition, they frequently have an income that varies year to year, making financial planning especially challenging. We help business owners understand the big picture of their finances and determine appropriate strategies for meeting long-term goals despite variability in short-term cashflow. We strongly encourage business owners to work with a qualified financial advisor to ensure that your years of hard work translate into the comfortable retirement and legacy you deserve.

Do we have to meet in person each time?

No. While we do enjoy sitting down with clients face-to-face, we also understand the reality of limited time and busy lives. Some meetings can be conducted over the phone. We also take advantage of technology tools like GoToMeeting and Zoom for virtual face-to-face consultations.

Do you charge fees, or do you charge commissions?

Every client presents a unique situation. Therefore, each plan we create is fully customized and includes different recommendations. Based on stress-tests, modeling and our behind-the-scenes analysis, some plans include a recommendation for a commission-based product to solve a specific problem or reach a financial goal. Some plans may include a recommendation that requires an asset management fee. Again, every plan is different; there are no standard guidelines for commission-based products or services.

How much is your fee in subsequent years?

Generally speaking, the financial planning fee is 50% of the first year, unless something significant has happened in your financial life that would necessitate a broader scope and work product.

Can I see my accounts online?

Yes. All accounts and policies are visible online. In addition, we have a “client command center” where we house your updated balance sheet and cash flows in your own personal vault. 

Are you a fiduciary?

Yes. Meredith has been a fiduciary since 2004. Regulations passed in 2017 require most licensed financial planning professionals to meet industry standards as fiduciary agents.

How long have you been in business?

Meredith has been providing financial planning services to Atlanta’s leading professionals since 1999.

What is the relationship with Artisan Financial Strategies, New York Life,
Eagle Strategies, National Financial Services and managers like Brinker Capital?

  • NYLIFE Securities allows us to offer non-proprietary products, such as mutual funds, stocks, and bonds from a wide variety of companies.
  • New York Life Insurance Company offers a number of insurance and annuity products for our clients.
  • National Financial Services provides Artisan Financial Strategies with trade execution, clearing, custody and other related services for clients.
  • Eagle Strategies is the Registered Investment Advisory arm of New York Life Insurance Company. Eagle Strategies gives Artisan Financial Strategies access to dozens of third-party money managers (like Brinker Capital) around the country to offer to our clients when there is a philosophical, risk and performance fit.
  • Ash Brokerage allows us to shop out insurance products to numerous other companies if New York Life is not an optimal fit.