We need financial advice in San Francisco, for cheap
April 17, 2009 2:25 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a very basic financial adviser in San Francisco?

We got married about a year ago, both in our 40s and recently had a child. We'd like to get some advice on basic financial planning, specifically about combining our finances, getting ourselves in order to save for a house, and starting on a path for saving for our daughter's education. From what I've read of other AskMe's, we want a "fee only" adviser and are definitely willing to pay to get some basic counseling/advice. Although we both have investments, they are not extensive and we'd prefer not to use the services offered through those plans since we don't want to be sold new investments or feel like someone is making a commission on us. We just want unbiased advice from a professional. All the searches that I do for someone locally turn up a bunch of names that seem pitched to people with LOTS more money than we have. Some have things like $5,000 initiation fees and/or $500/hour fees. That seems like overkill in our case. Is there a middle ground between the dude from my 403(b) plan and the guy who advises the Getty family?
posted by otherwordlyglow to Work & Money (6 answers total)
I know a few in the area if you want to Memail me, but a good source of fee-only planners is the Garrett Network.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:45 PM on April 17, 2009

I just sent you Memail...
posted by handful of rain at 2:48 PM on April 17, 2009

Disclaimer: I'm in the business working at a firm you'd recognize. While I can charge a base fee for financial plans that is not how my main practice is built.

You're in that in between spot where planning is helpful, and needed, but can't quite afford a high- end advisor.
As I see it, you have two main choices:
Do the research yourself until there comes a time when spending $5000 on a plan doesn't feel like a kick in the stomach or
work with someone who is likely a bit newer to the biz and willing to take on a youngish couple entering their prime earning years (personally I enjoy working with clients like you as that loyalty will pay off down the road).

I'd try to get a referral from someone you know, a peer or family member, instead of going through searches. Sometimes more experience advisors will work with people who they wouldn't normally take on as clients as a favor for their better clients. Is there someone that your family can turn you on to?
Also, try not to limit yourself to your local city. If Dad has a great advisor somewhere out of state, you might be able to leverage that relationship to get the advice you need. Most of my practice is on the phone and email anyway so working remotely is not a big deal.

I don't have a name for you but hopefully this helps a little.
posted by thekorruptor at 2:50 PM on April 17, 2009

I've been pleased with the advice I've gotten from USAA. It's $1,000 for a year's worth of advice, including a thorough financial guide customized for your family. I think they might have some hourly plans, too.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:04 PM on April 17, 2009

I've been very pleased with the advice and services of Terry Enfield, who works as a CPA and also does financial planning. It seems like he might be a better fit for you than an investment-based planner. He works in Walnut Creek, but can meet with you in San Francisco as well.
posted by judith at 3:37 PM on April 17, 2009

I don't know Terry Enfield, and he may be immune to this, but in the past I've been frustrated with a lot of CPAs who do financial planning because they often let the tax tail wag the dog. Tax efficiency should not be the primary motivator in all your financial decisions.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:58 PM on April 17, 2009

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