I am licensed with the State of California to do parts of the work I do. That doesn’t mean that they’ve signed off on any specifics of the work I do, but it does mean that I’ve fulfilled certain requirements, and that I keep my licensing with the state up-to-date.
As part of that licensing, I am required to make very specific disclosures to, in essence, the world at large, including prospects, clients, regulators, and pretty much anyone else wanting to look at the disclosures.
A big part of the disclosures happen by way of documents called Brochures. I use two separate Brochures for this purpose, as follows:
This is the main document I must maintain with the State of California to maintain my certification as a financial planner; it focuses on my business, and how I help people improve their financial lives.
This is a secondary document I maintain with the State of California; it contains a lot of info about moi.
To round out this information, you can also go to the site maintained by the federal regulators; this is the site mentioned on the cover page of both of the Brochures above. I recommend that everyone — you too! — use this site to look up every financial planner and money manager they are considering bringing into their life and into their financial world. In fact, when I’m helping people be smart about how to choose among prospective money managers, I give them a little primer about how to understand the information on this site, which is both gossipy in some ways (in particular, the total assets the money manager has under management, which is tantamount to knowing, to a fairly decent approximation, the money manager’s gross revenues) and quite dry in others (lots of regulatory underbrush).
Here’s a link to the site:
This takes you to the front door of the search tool. The main thing you’ll need to do is choose between looking up a person vs. looking up a firm. That bifurcate happens at the first button-choice on that page. From there I think you’ll find use of the tool quite straightforward.
If all you want to do is look up John Friedman Financial, then the link above should be just the ticket.
A Note About Cozying Up to the Brochures.
Brochures are required to follow a very specific template, and that means that the Brochures are by no means the most user-friendly documents you’ll see emanating from these parts.
Parts of these mandated templates read like checklists of questionable, close-to-unethical-at-least practices that some (and by no means all) money managers and the like pursue as a part of their business model.
Now, as it happens, and as described throughout this site, my business model is very different from the typical money management business model the mandated template mainly focuses upon, so throughout the Information Brochure you will see a lot of information about how I operate in counter-distinction to the normal manner in which other financial planners operate. That, in and of itself, can be of value for you to know, because there is a lot of information discussed in the brochure about what other financial planners do that, frankly, shocks many people when they hear that such things go on (Page 59 of 67, discussing soft dollars, comes to mind) (yup, the main Brochure has 67 pages of girth).
On the other side of the ledger, hopefully those distinctions can be interesting and meaningful to you because, if you are interested in my services, and if you are like my current clients, then you really, really like the idea that I am independent of any financial services outfit, and that I charge clients directly for providing advice, rather than doing what most other firms do, i.e. charging them for something else entirely (usually investment management, which can generate a lot of passive income having no connection to actual work performed) and then bundling in advice with that other service for free (as long as you don’t want too much advice).
When all is said and done, explaining all of that takes up some pages, so the main Brochure is a big document. But fear not: to do a quick uptake of it, you can read the Table of Contents, starting on the third page of the pdf, which reads like a CliffsNotes version of the entire Brochure.
Happy reading, and please do call if you’d like to discuss anything in these disclosures or if you’d like to know what’s in them but do not want to read them.