Putting your best interests first.

frequently asked questions

How do I know if your services are right for me?
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We will be happy to schedule a time to listen to you and answer any questions you may have, so we can both decide if we are right for each other. Request a convenient Free Consultation through the contact page.

What does a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional do?
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A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional helps clients achieve their financial and personal goals. Here, our CFP® Professionals are part coach, part advocate, all partner. We are in this with you. We take a holistic approach with an emphasis on your entire financial life – not just investments. Ultimately, our goal is to create a path towards financial prosperity and peace of mind so you can focus on your family, career, that trip of a lifetime or rewarding retirement.

What does an ACCREDITED INVESTMENT FIDUCIARY® Professional do?
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The purpose of the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) designation is to assure that those responsible for managing or advising on investor assets have a fundamental understanding of the principles of fiduciary duty, the standards of conduct for acting as a fiduciary, and a process for carrying out fiduciary responsibility.

What is a fiduciary?
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A fiduciary is a person who holds a legal and ethical relationship of trust with clients. We wouldn't have it any other way. 


What services do you provide?
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We provide all the relevant financial planning services that you would expect from a major financial organization, however, we are independent, life-centered and have developed a much more personal and objective approach. 


Do your planning services cover retirement income funding?
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Yes

Do your planning services cover tax strategy?
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Yes

Can a Real Life-Centered Financial Plan help balance my cash-flow and spending?
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Yes.

Can your planning services help me decide if a Roth conversion is right for me?
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Yes.

Do your planning services cover education funding?
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Yes.

Do your planning services cover estate planning?
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Yes.

You say your process is fun, what is fun about financial planning?
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Great question, and the answer is a key factor that motivated me to create an independent, fee-only financial planning firm in Montecito, CA. I firmly believe and understand that your life, dreams, hobbies, family, friendships and career endeavors are what matter most, and helping you have more relaxed time to enjoy them is what our process delivers all along the way. That is fun.

Do you provide guidance for getting better yields on my bank savings and money market funds?
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Yes.

What is the difference between a 'fee-only' advisor & a 'fee-based' advisor?
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Big difference! We are 'fee-only' advisors and financial planners. Simply stated, a fee-only advisor is compensated directly and only by their clients, and that is their total compensation; while  'fee-based' advisors charge both Fees AND Sales Commissions, and may also receive sales commissions from third-party products they sell. Specifically, we do not receive or take  sales commissions, trading commissions, mutual fund commissions, or product sales incentives of any sort. The extremely different, 'fee-based' advisors not only charge a fee, they also may sell investment products for additional offering concessions and/or sales commissions, along with receiving ongoing distribution sales commission trailers based upon client assets invested in certain mutual fund investment/insurance and/or other products they have advised/sold to their clients.

Are you compensated for referrals, investment management fees or commissions from third-parties?
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No. We are fee-only. Our only source of compensation is the fee you pay.  All these other ‘fees’ create expensive and awkward conflicts of interest, which are the antithesis of our model. The essence of designing Plains Coastal was to have zero conflicts of interest.

How is Plains Coastal different from robo advisors, stockbrokers or other ‘wealth managers’?
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We do Real Life-Centered Financial Planning versus solely managing money. We believe clients should have human beings planning their prosperous financial lives. Human insight, understanding and common experiences make for a better-informed Life-Centered Financial Plan.


How does Plains Coastal charge for its services?
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We charge a flat fee driven purely by the services relevant to each client. Our service agreements typically range from $6,000 a year to $30,000 per year. Our average client pays a flat fee of $12,000 per year. 


By what means do I pay you?
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Credit card or bank draft. It’s a seamless transaction through our billing system.


Will you manage my portfolio?
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No. We work as your advocate to seek out, find, and oversee managers that best fit you. This “unbundled” approach lowers your overall cost.


Why doesn’t Plains Coastal charge based on assets under management?
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We believe you should pay for service rather than pay based on how much money you have. 

We know from experience that it does not cost a firm more to manage a portfolio of $1,000,000 than a portfolio of $500,000; it does not cost more to manage $5,000,000 than $1,000,000. Why, then, should clients pay more to receive the same services?

Furthermore, our “pay for what you use” model breaks down some of the barriers that keep some people from financial planning in the first place. And we want everyone to be able to plan for a fun and prosperous financial life.



Do you review assets I have in 401(k) plans, company retirement plans, and other savings?
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Yes. It’s important that we take a universal look at all your investments and financial life before making recommendations.


How does the service agreement work?
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The service agreement for our ongoing financial planning services continues until it is canceled by either party at any time and for any reason without any penalty.



What is the signup process like?
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It is quick and easy, we just need a bit of information to get started. We typically meet 2 times before taking on any new client to make sure we are on the same page and we can fulfill your needs. Once we decide to work together, we will send you our financial planning services agreement, which you can complete online. After that, we review what we have discussed and confirm an outline of the next steps.  We will generate a personalized calendar for you as a reminder for future meetings and any homework which may be completed between meetings. 


If I like where I have my accounts, will I have to change custodians?
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No. You can retain your existing accounts. We will tell you if there is a disadvantage to doing that.


Are there cancellation fees?
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No cancellation fees.


Where is Plains Coastal located?
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We are located in Montecito, CA.

Our office is conveniently located in the Upper Village by appointment only.

William T. Toner, CFP®, AIF®

William Toner
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