Compass Resting on Financial Planning Document

By Richard W. Stout III

If you are looking for a fresh start with your financial plan, you are not alone. 2020 has been a year of reflection, with many investors reconsidering priorities, how well they are prepared for the unexpected, and how they can remove anxiety from their financial lives. What does the loss of a job, an unexpected illness, an unexpected expense, or a historically turbulent stock market mean for your financial plan?

Our clients have living financial plans that permit us to answer these questions, and others, quickly, accurately, and assuredly. Knowing where one stands, both now and well into the future, is a tremendous relief and can assist in dealing with the unknowns we all face. A living financial plan accomplishes this. Here are some important considerations as you review your financial plan and how it is positioned entering 2021.

Is Your Financial Planner a True Fiduciary?

Financial professionals can operate under two sets of standards: the regulation best interest standard and the fiduciary standard. Under the fiduciary standard, financial professionals are required by law to act in their clients’ best interests at all times. The regulation best interest standard, which took effect last June, aimed to elevate the level of transparency between financial professionals, broker-dealers in particular, and their clients. It is a move in the right direction, but the regulation best interest standard is still roomier in terms of its restrictions compared with the fiduciary standard. Do you know if your financial planner is a true fiduciary? You can search the SEC database to find out. If your financial professional’s firm shows up when you search for them using this tool, they are operating as a Registered Investment Advisor and bound by the fiduciary standard.

How Much Are You Paying in Investment Fes?

When was the last time you asked your financial professional about fees? Make sure you understand how much you are paying them to manage your financial plan and your investments supporting your plan. Understand what your investments’ expense ratios are, the existence of any front-end sales loads, and if these expenses include 12-B1 fees. If your financial professional is not operating under the fiduciary standard, are they making recommendations based on your best interest only? Ensure you understand the fees you pay in totality and seek out a second opinion if you are unsure about any of them.

Our Fees and What We Offer

At Benchmark Wealth Management, we believe in transparency. We also believe that a financial planner should only do well when their clients are doing well. That is why we utilize a simple percentage-based fee schedule on assets under management to both create and monitor their financial plan and build an investment portfolio to support it:

Household Assets Annual Fee

$1,000,000 and below 1.000%

$1,000,001 – $2,000,000 0.875%

$2,000,001 – $5,000,000 0.750%

$5,000,001 and above Custom pricing

Utilizing this type of approach encourages a transparent and objective partnership with our clients. We are here to help with all your complete planning, investment management, estate, and retirement needs, and we offer compelling value delivered with exceptional service.

Is Your Financial Plan Ready for 2021?

Make sure your financial plan is ready for the unpredictability of 2021 and beyond. With market volatility, election cycle fallout, active global pandemic, unemployment, and business cycle uncertainty, 2021 will likely be another anxious year for investors. Is your financial plan positioned to meet your goals today and throughout your and your loved ones’ lifetime?

Your financial plan’s strength should be built to withstand market corrections, uncertainty, and be based on reasonable assumptions. By addressing those inputs that can be managed, and making conservative, reasonable assumptions for those areas that appear uncontrollable, a living financial plan keeps you on track, reduces the anxiety uncertainty brings, and prevents the reactive decisions that regularly derail proper planning. Good plans do not have a “PANIC” section.

Get Started Now!

Get on track for 2021 with a fresh start to your financial plan by scheduling a meeting with us today. At Benchmark Wealth Management, our goal is to deliver unsurpassed wealth management to our clients. With our commitment to proactive and responsive service, a transparent fee schedule, and a range of service offerings, we’re dedicated to providing the highest levels of service and value our clients deserve. Please call 860.434.6890 or email me at to schedule a consultation.

About Rick

Richard W. Stout III is managing director of Benchmark Wealth Management, LLC, with 25 years of experience in the financial industry. He specializes in financial planning and asset management for individuals, families, and institutions seeking to build and monitor durable and sustainable plans for their financial futures. Rick is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and holds the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) designation. He has earned a Master of Science degree in Personal Financial Planning from the College for Financial Planning and holds the Master Planner Advanced StudiesSM (MPAS®). He obtained his MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his BA in Economics and Anthropology from the University of Connecticut. He also completed the Accredited Wealth Management Advisor (AWM®) program through the Estate and Wealth Strategies Institute at Michigan State University. He has extensive background experience in lending, credit review and analysis, and real estate and partnership management. Learn more about Rick by connecting with him on LinkedIn.

Additional information, including management fees and expenses, is provided on our Form ADV Part 2, available upon request or at the SEC’s Investment Advisor Public Disclosure site,, searching with our company name or unique identifier, CRD # 160192. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Securities offered by Registered Representatives through Private Client Services, Member FINRA, SIPC in the following states: AZ, CA, CT, FL, KY, MA, ME, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NY, RI, TX. (Securities-related services may not be provided to individuals residing in any state not previously listed) Advisory services offered through Benchmark Wealth Management, LLC a Registered Investment Advisor. Benchmark Wealth Management and Private Client Services are unaffiliated entities.

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