Transparency About Costs

I charge on an hourly basis because I believe that doing so is fair to both the client and to the professional. Clients with less complex situations pay less, clients with more complex situations pay more, and the professional is compensated for the time spent.

Typical Cost of an Engagement

My billable rate is $265 per hour. The total cost can vary considerably from one engagement to another, depending on what topics you want me to address and depending on the complexity of the circumstances involved.

Regardless of the type of engagement, I will always provide an estimate of the cost before we sign an agreement.

A common type of engagement that I perform for clients who have recently retired (or who are planning to retire soon) is to create a plan for Roth conversions, retirement account distributions, and Social Security filing decisions. A plan of that nature often takes in the range of 6-10 hours. Typical factors that can affect the time required include:

  • Your age. (It’s generally necessary to create projections going at least to the year in which RMDs begin. The younger you are, the more time it will take to create such projections.)
  • Whether you are married or single. (For married couples, it’s important to do a brief “after only one of us is alive” projection as well.)
  • Complexity of applicable state income/estate tax considerations.
  • Complexity of your portfolio.

How Does This Hourly Rate Compare?

I always encourage people to shop around when considering working with a financial professional. (And I would be happy to provide a list of other professionals you may want to consider.) If you do shop around, you will find that I am neither the cheapest nor the most expensive.

A 2020 Kitces Research survey found that the median cost for hourly financial planning was $250. A 2020 survey from Envestnet/MoneyGuide found the hourly average was $257.

For 2021, my hourly rate was $250. For engagements beginning in 2022, the rate is increasing to $265 (a 6% inflation increase, based on the annual Social Security COLA, which felt both reasonable and thematically appropriate).

What is Billable and What Isn’t?

Time spent on the following activities is billable:

  • Performing analysis and writing up the results
  • Researching topics specific to your needs (In particular, state tax topics often require me to do some research, as I work with clients in many different states. This is different than, for instance, a CPA who works overwhelmingly with clients in his/her own state and who therefore has deep, ready-to-go expertise regarding tax considerations for that state.)
  • Phone or video calls with the client
  • Email correspondence with the client about financial matters

Time spent on the following activities is not billable:

  • The initial 20-minute call to discuss a potential engagement
  • Compliance-related activities for the engagement
  • Administrative activities (e.g., scheduling calls, preparing the engagement agreement, invoicing)