Broker Check

Q. What is the Difference Between a Financial Planner and a Financial Advisor?

Anyone can call themselves is a financial planner or advisor. Because of that, it’s essential to verify the qualifications and credentials of any “planner” or “advisor” before you trust someone with your financial present or future. 

At Coble Cravens, we take pride in being CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, committed to upholding the highest ethical standards. To earn the coveted CFP® designation, we undergo rigorous training and accumulate substantial experience in providing financial planning services to our valued clients. Only after successfully passing the comprehensive CFP® Certification Exam do we earn the privilege of calling ourselves CFP® professionals. To learn more about how a CFP® professional works for youwatch this video.

Generally, a financial planner is a professional who helps companies and individuals put together a plan to meet long-term financial goals.  By way of example, a financial planner might help you put together a plan for retirement that helps to match your retirement goals with your income sources. Or, a financial planner can help you budget and save for expense like a home purchase or paying for college education.

A financial advisor, is a broader title for a professional who helps you manage your money, including investments and other accounts. As such, a financial advisor might just help with managing your investments by putting together a portfolio for your taxable and tax-deferred accounts.

We recognize the significance of both roles in managing your finances effectively. As a cohesive team of financial planners and advisors, we are dedicated to understanding your complete financial picture, tailoring our strategies to suit your unique needs and objectives.

Q. What is a Fiduciary?

A fiduciary is an individual or institution entrusted with the authority to act on behalf of another person or entity, and it requires the highest level of trust, honesty, and loyalty. When serving as a fiduciary, the primary responsibility is to act in the best interests of the person or entity they represent, setting aside any personal motives or conflicts of interest. This ensures that the fiduciary prioritizes the optimal outcome for the specific situation they are handling.

In our role as a fiduciary, we are obligated to place your needs above everything else. We take great care to avoid any conflicts of interest between us and our clients, ensuring that our actions are solely focused on benefiting you and your financial well-being. It is crucial to emphasize that a fiduciary cannot derive personal benefits from managing someone else's assets, as this would violate the fiduciary duty.

Being a fiduciary goes beyond mere ethical considerations; it is a legal obligation to act in the best interests of the clients we serve. This means that, by law, we must prioritize your interests ahead of our own, providing you with a level of trust and confidence in our professional relationship.

At our firm, we take immense pride in operating as fiduciaries for our clients. Your trust is of utmost importance to us, and we are fully committed to acting in your best interests, adhering to the highest ethical and legal standards throughout our professional relationship.

Q. How can I check the background of a Financial Advisor?

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Broker Check are all good tools to research the background and experience of financial advisors and firms and will indicate if there has been any disciplinary action taken.

Look up their Form ADV Part 2 on the website. This form requires investment advisors to describe in plain English the types of advisory services they offer, their fee schedule, disciplinary information, conflicts of interest, and the educational and business background of management and key advisory personnel of the advisor. This is the primary disclosure document that investment advisors should provide to their clients. You can find our ADV Part 2 by clicking here.

Another source of information can be the advisor's past or current clients. A good advisor should not be afraid to hand out two or three solid references.  If the advisor is a Certified Financial Planner, check the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

Q. When should I start working with a Financial Advisor?

Deciding when to start working with a financial advisor depends on your individual circumstances and financial goals. There is never a right time versus wrong time. Here are some common scenarios when it may be beneficial to seek the help of a financial advisor:

A. You experience a major life event: Any major life event might require the help of a financial planner. Examples include having a baby, job changes, dramatic downsizing, new sources of income, or selling a business. A financial planner can walk you through all of the options and help you to make the most well-informed decision.

B. Your career changes: If you suddenly have an increased salary, it might be time to put together a new financial plan. Likewise, if you are shifting careers, you may need to adjust your monthly budget. A financial planner can help you decide what options you have, where to invest, and what might be the best way to plan for the future.

C. You receive an inheritance: An inheritance might be one of the most important times to seek the help of a financial professional. You will likely have questions about how to take care of your family member’s final financial obligations and wishes or what the tax implications might be? You may also want advice on how to best handle your inheritance going forward, e.g., Do I invest?, Should I buy down my debt?, etc.. A financial planner can answer all of these questions with you.

D. You get divorced: Divorces can take a major toll on your personal financial health because of shared finances. You will have questions like, “Who gets what?”  “How do I protect myself?”  “How are retirement accounts and/or benefits best separated?”  “Where should I reallocate my assets?”  All of these questions and concerns can be addressed by a financial professional.

E. You are at or close to retirement age: Some of your biggest money questions might arise when you are close to retirement. You will have questions like, “Will I have enough money?” “What are my options?”  “When should I claim Social Security?” “Can we buy that second home?” “Can I afford to retire?” and “How can I save more money?” Financial planners are trained to help their clients navigate the challenges of retirement.

F. You want to take control of your financial situation: The desire to take control of your financial situation doesn’t require a major life event to happen.

  • If you're new to investing or unsure about managing your investments, 
  • If you want to maximize your tax savings,
  • If you have an existing plan that you want to modify or validate, 

...a good financial planner can help you address these needs and help you feel comfortable based on your specific financial situation.

While some people may benefit from working with an advisor early on, others might seek help at critical life junctures. Ultimately, the decision to work with a financial advisor should be based on your comfort level, financial complexity, and desire to achieve your long-term financial goals.

Q. How do you get paid?

This is probably the question we are asked most frequently. Especially because of the time we take to ask questions and really get to know you and your family before we even begin getting paid. We believe that is an important part of our process and developing what we hope will be a very long relationship with you.

There are many different pricing arrangements that financial advisors can offer to assist their clients. Typically these arrangements are divided into three categories - flat fee, asset-based advisory fees, and transaction based commissions. Some financial advisors only offer one of these arrangements while others, like our firm, offer multiple options depending on our roles as financial planners, financial advisors and insurance brokers and the services we are providing. 

Regardless of how we get paid, as a fiduciary and as part of our registration with the SEC, we are required to act in your best interests first and foremost, at all times.

1. Flat Fee Consulting

Depending on your specific needs, we may decide that a predetermined fee, charged one-time or semi-annually, is in your best interest and the most reasonable pricing arrangement. This is typically in exchange for a specified consulting assignments, such as:

  • evaluating your current insurance exposure and needs and making recommendations
  • delivering a one-time financial plan
  • evaluating your current financial, estate or retirement plan to determine if any changes need to be made
  • establishing a budget, cash flow statement or business related consulting

If you are looking for help for a specific objective but want to implement it yourself, this type of arrangement might be a good fit for you.

2. Asset-Based Investment Advisory

Most of our financial planning and advisory clients pay us a percentage of the assets we are managing on their behalf. In this type of arrangement we provide complete financial planning combined with holistic wealth management. This involves investment management, retirement planning, goal-based planning, tax planning, risk management, and estate planning. Multiple review meetings are conducted annually to ensure you stay on track to pursue your goals. Most of our clients find tremendous value in bringing their financial planning, tax preparation, risk management and investment management under one roof. 

The percentage charged is typically determined based on the amount of assets managed and the complexity of the client's planning needs.

If you a looking for everything a financial advisor has to offer and the comfort knowing you are being taken care of, then this is your best fit.

3. Commissions

The majority of our insurance products and solutions pay us some type of commission. The amount of commissions that insurers pay brokers is relatively consistent across the board and often times regulated by the state. 

In addition to insurance policies, we may get paid per transaction by collecting a commission on the sale of certain stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, or other products. 

This is a good option for one-off holdings or accounts that may not require active management.


Having a candid discussion about your needs and expectations with your financial advisor is the best way to ensure you are happy with the service you are getting and what you are paying for it.

Q. Do I need life insurance?

If any of the following statements describe your situation, you should consider a life insurance policy: 

Other people depend on my income
You don't have to be your family's primary wage earner – if people would feel economic hardship without you, they depend on your income. If you're single but planning to get married and have children in the next few years, your answer to this question should also be "Yes."
I have debts that others would be responsible for if I die
Do you have student loans that your parents will have to repay if you can't? A car, mortgage, business, or personal loan with co-signers? If so, a life insurance policy can keep you from burdening a loved one with thousands of dollars in debt payments.
I don't have enough savings or assets to cover all my obligations
Most individuals don't have enough saved to fully pay off their debts and support family members in their absence. So, if you're like most adults with financial obligations, you should consider buying life insurance.

For more information, visit our Insurance Resources page.

Q. How much life insurance do I need?

There are several ways to get a life insurance coverage estimate. Our life insurance calculator is one way you can input your specific financials and get an estimated amount. Here are some other rules of thumb to you can use to get a general sense of how much coverage you need.

Consider multiplying your income by 10
Take your annual salary and add a "0" at the end. So, $50,000 salary equals $500,000 of coverage, $75,000 equals $750,000, and so on. 

Consider multiplying your income by 10 – and add college for each child
How much should you add? Account for somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000 per child. If you split the difference – and have two kids – that's an extra $250,000.

Consider using the DIME formula
DIME stands for Debt, Income, Mortgage, and Education. This method estimates your life insurance need as the sum of your financial obligations and other expenses: 

  • Debt: Total all your debts other than your mortgage.
  • Income: Take your salary and multiply by the number of years you think your family needs protection – or at least as long as you have children at home.      
  • Mortgage: Look at your last statement and get the payoff amount. 
  • Education: The anticipated cost for sending each of your children to college.

For more information, visit our Insurance Resources page.

Q. When should I take Social Security?

The decision of when to take Social Security benefits depends on various factors and individual circumstances. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Full Retirement Age (FRA): Your Full Retirement Age is the age at which you can receive your full Social Security benefits. It depends on the year you were born. For example, if you were born in 1960 or later, your FRA is 67. If you delay taking benefits until your FRA, you'll receive your full benefit amount.
  • Early Retirement: You can start receiving reduced Social Security benefits as early as age 62 but doing so will permanently reduce your monthly benefits by up to 30%.
  • Delayed Retirement: On the other hand, if you delay taking benefits past your FRA, you can earn delayed retirement credits. For each year you delay, your benefit increases by a certain percentage, typically 8% per year, until you reach age 70.

Health and Longevity: Consider your health and life expectancy. If you have reason to believe you may have a shorter lifespan or significant health concerns, taking benefits earlier may be a better choice.

Financial Needs: Assess your financial situation and needs in retirement. If you have other sources of income and can afford to wait, delaying benefits can lead to a higher monthly payout.

Spousal Benefits: Married individuals should consider their spouse's Social Security benefit options as well. There may be strategies to maximize the total household benefits.

Working in Retirement: If you plan to work while receiving Social Security benefits before your FRA, your benefits may be subject to an earnings limit, which can reduce your payments.

Tax Implications: The timing of Social Security benefits can impact your tax situation. Benefits may be subject to federal income tax depending on your total income.

Overall, the decision of when to take Social Security is a complex one, and it's best to consider your unique circumstances and preferences. You may want to consult with a financial advisor or use online Social Security calculators to help determine the optimal strategy for your specific situation.

Q. Can I open a Roth IRA for my child?

Yes!  Roth IRAs are ideal for kids for three reasons:

  1. Children have decades for their contributions to grow tax-free.  
  2. Contributions to a Roth IRA can be withdrawn tax- and penalty-free at any time.
  3. There are no age restrictions.  Children are just required to have earned income.

The main requirement is that the child must have earned income.  Earned income as defined by the IRS is taxable income and wages earned from a W-2 job, or from self-employment like baby-sitting, lawn-mowing or dog walking. 

A parent or other adult must open a custodial Roth IRA for a child. Contributions are limited to the lesser of the child’s total earned income for the year or the current annual maximum Roth IRA contribution set by law. The child’s adjusted gross income must also be below the thresholds above which Roth IRAs are not allowed.

Want to learn more?

Connect with us today to learn how we can help you and your family.