Baldwin & Associates: FAQ
Who is Baldwin & Associates?
Mary Ellen Baldwin, CFP® started practicing as a fee-only financial planner in 1997 based on the NAPFA principle of client-focused, comprehensive, financial advice. The goal of everyone at Baldwin & Associates is to provide guidance for people to create the life they want.
Why choose Baldwin & Associates planners?
We provide customized comprehensive financial planning. No two people are the same, and one-size-fits-all doesn’t work. As fee-ONLY financial planners, we are not obligated to use a particular product or fund. Fees erode returns and we select low-cost, institutional investments that meet or exceed their benchmarks. Market-timing doesn’t work. We use investment strategies rooted in academic research that create long-term investment portfolios, including research such as the Efficient Market Hypothesis proposed by Nobel Prize winner Eugene Fama and Kenneth French, and the Modern Portfolio Theory proposed by Harry Markowitz. Your financial health is not limited to just investment advice. We provide Cash Flow and Retirement Planning, Tax and Estate Planning, Risk Management, and other financial planning services.
What investments do you use?
Baldwin & Associates does not use proprietary products or funds. We use liquid, Institutional, low expense mutual funds and Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s).
Will you communicate with my other service professionals (CPA, Attorney, etc.)?
Confidentiality is paramount and we communicate with your professionals (legal, accounting) only with your written permission. Nothing beyond the scope of the question or issue is discussed.
Where does Baldwin & Associates hold my money?
We never hold money, instead your money is custodied with TD Ameritrade Institutional Services. Checks are sent to TD Ameritrade the same day they are received.
TD Ameritrade is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation ("SIPC") and members are protected up to $500,000 (including $250,000 for claims for cash). Additionally, TD Ameritrade provides $149.5 million of protection for securities and $2 million of cash protection through supplemental coverage.
Cash is held in a TD Ameritrade FDIC-Insured Deposit Account with insurance of $250,000 per depositor.
Why should I choose a fee-only financial planner?
A fee-only financial planner does not have any conflicts of interest or receive commissions or use proprietary products. The only compensation is the fee that is agreed upon by the planner and client. Fee-only financial planners do not sell products and this eliminates any bias toward proprietary investments. Fee-only financial planning is long term with the goal of making clients financially healthy.
How do you charge fees?
Our flat fee for financial planning and portfolio management services is usually a fixed fee based on income, assets, and complexity. Sample fee schedule:
Portfolio Size Annual Fee
$0 to $1,000,000 1.50%
$1,000,001 to $2,000,000 1.25%
$2,000,001 to $5,000,000 1.00%
Over $5,000,001 0.75%
Fees may also be charged by fund companies and TD Ameritrade Institutional.
If something happens (natural disaster, fire, etc.) and you can no longer operate in your office, what happens to my investments?
In the event there is a Significant Business Disruption (SBD) such as a flood or a hurricane, we have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place that includes a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP). We ensure that we will resume business operations as soon as possible and, during any disruptions to our business operations, our clients’ investment portfolio accounts are still available to access in electronic format at TD Ameritrade Institutional. Throughout a SBD, we would take every effort possible to protect the firm’s records and files and ensure we could communicate with our clients and our financial custodian, TD Ameritrade Institutional. TD Ameritrade has its own BCP in event of a SBD and is committed to maintaining business operations to include processing client orders and transactions, providing access to cash, securities, balances and transactions in client accounts. In the event of a SBD, our goal is to return to essential business operations as soon as practicable and establish operational communications with TD Ameritrade as soon as possible.