Frequently Asked Questions

At Pillar Wealth Advisors, we find that people who either have never worked with a wealth planner before or for whom their existing advisor relationship just isn't working, identifying and selecting a new wealth planner can be a really daunting task. These are a few frequently asked questions, both about our practice and the practice of wealth planning/management broadly-speaking, that we hope you'll find helpful as you think about working with Pillar Wealth Advisors, LLC.

The Firm and Operations

Q. What does it mean to be a Registered Investment Advisor?

A. All professional investment management companies are required to register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and/or the State(s) in which the firm conducts business activities. That registration is called an ADV, and it is available in two parts. ADV Part I is basic information about the advisory business and ADV Part II explains our services and fees Form ADV (PDF, 275KB)

Q. How does an RIA differ from a brokerage firm?

A. RIAs are in the investment management business and are regulated by the Investment Advisors Act of 1940. In contrast, brokerage firms are primarily in the financial product sales and distribution business and they are regulated by the Securities Act of 1933, as well as other laws. As an RIA under the 1940 Act, we have a higher level of fiduciary responsibility to our clients than do brokerage firms. We are required by law to work in our client's best interest. Our fee is based on assets under management (AUM) rather than the brokerage model that is generally tied to the sale and distribution of financial products.

Q. Is Pillar affiliated in some way with Charles Schwab & Company?

A. Pillar Wealth is not affiliated with Charles Schwab Institutional or their parent company, nor are we compensated by that company in any way through fees or commissions. In the spirit of full disclosure, Schwab gives Pillar Wealth access to necessary software that allows our in-house portfolio management system to work efficiently and cleanly with Schwab's back-office operations and trading desks. The same software is available to all investment advisors that custody client assets at Schwab.

Q. To what ethical standards, does Pillar Wealth hold itself accountable?

A. Every member of the Pillar Wealth team annually signs an Ethics Statement which outlines our ethical standards. Everyone at Pillar Wealth Advisors, LLC adheres to that strict ethical code as part of our daily operations.

Being A Pillar Wealth Advisors Client

Q. If I become a client, does anyone at Pillar Wealth Advisors have access to my money?

A. No one at Pillar Wealth Advisors, LLC has access to the money in your account. We have limited power of attorney to do three things in a client account - 1) trade securities with discretion, 2) request that Schwab send a check to a Client directly or to a Client's bank, and 3) to be paid a monthly management fee based on the Client contract. We have no other access or authority.

Q. How is my fee paid to Pillar Wealth Advisors, LLC?

A. Pillar charges its fees in two ways….1) if we establish a Wealth Planning relationship with you, we charge you a fixed and pre-agreed amount for our planning services, 2) if we manage some of your investable wealth directly, our fee will be a percentage of the wealth we manage for you and that percentage will decline as the amount of managed wealth increases. Our only income is that which our clients agree to pay us.

Q. Does Pillar Wealth Advisors have a minimum client account or household wealth size?

A. Our clients typically have investable assets in a range from $250,000 to well above $10,000,000. It is possible to not meet our minimum and yet be a very desirable client. Young professionals and business-owners just starting out on their financial path, and people who have faced financial obstacles, such as divorce, unexpected career change or loss of a spouse, can benefit from our Wealth Planning services and we would love to hear from them! We absolutely believe in the "higher calling" of what we do and hope you will call if you think Pillar Wealth Advisors can be of help.

Q. How is my privacy protected?

A. Pillar Wealth Advisors, LLC complies with all privacy laws affecting financial institutions. Each year our clients receive our Privacy Policy that outlines this responsibility in detail. Those standards are reviewed regularly to ensure they cover all forms of communication. Briefly, we will not release any information to any person who is not directly named on your account unless we have your permission to do so, with the exception of legal and regulatory authorities.