Broker Check

FAQs

  • Who is Birks Financial Corp. (BFC)?

    We have maintained a trusted relationship with our clients by providing quality advice and outstanding service. The majority of our clients have been with us for over a decade.

    Beginning in 1989 as a commissioned-based advisor, Jim formed BFC in 1997 as a fee based financial planning practice. As a fee based financial advisor, our revenues derive from fees paid directly to us by our clients. From our beginning we recognized the need for comprehensive retirement planning and investment advice. We offer assistance in estate planning, insurance planning, social security planning, long-term health care, income tax planning, and all other areas of finance.

    Our financial planning advice provides clients with a complete evaluation of their financial resources, personal risk tolerance, and income requirements. We identify, quantify, and prioritize the client's personal and financial goals. An investment policy, including an asset allocation model, is implemented and managed by the firm and is designed to achieve the client's goals. A copy of this investment policy is provided to clients so they can follow along with the strategy and understand the thought process that goes into the asset allocation recommendation.

  • What separates BFC from other financial advisors?

    There are a few things that we think are unique and special about us:

    1. We are a small, independent, and family owned firm. We maintain close relationships with all of our clients and believe very strongly in doing what is in their best interest (the fiduciary standard). This is very different from the traditional broker's suitability standard, which says that an investment only needs to be suitable for a client and may involve the advisor getting paid a commission to recommend a certain product.

    2. We specialize in helping new clients financially catch-up to where they need to be (which is often the need to accumulate $1-4 million). As a result, we take the time to craft a well designed strategy and provide the direct advice that is sometimes necessary.

    3. There are many details to be managed as part of a successful financial and investment plan. We service less than 100 client relationships and recognize that one of the main benefits we provide is proactive follow through on details so clients don’t have to. We heavily invest our time and financial resources in developing systems and procedures that allow us to be your effective back office and are intended to provide a customer service experience that results in peace of mind and financial confidence.

  • Do you specialize in working with any particular type of client?

    Yes, individuals who are serious about becoming financially independent. Our established clients tend to be aggressive investors and savers, frugal, and practice deferred gratification. They didn’t all start that way as clients but developed these necessary habits because they were dedicated to financially catching-up to where they needed to be.

  • How are you compensated?

    For Financial Planning, we are paid an initial planning fee to develop a written comprehensive retirement plan. Afterwards we are paid a retainer fee to help you follow the plan (Financial Planning Implementation and Portfolio Management). The annual retainer fee is based on the value of your liquid investment values (1-1.5% annually). Essentially, we are paid to help you grow and then protect your investments. Your success = our success. 

  • How often will you meet with me?

    We will meet with a client as often as necessary. We proactively contact clients quarterly for a review by telephone and in office review annually. We ask our clients to contact us if there are any changes in their financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if they want to impose, add, or modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. We also provide our clients with comprehensive customized quarterly reports. Finally, we send out frequent emails and letters with news of upcoming seminars, webinars, conference calls, and investment thoughts. The goal is to educate our clients and provide them with complete information so that they can make informed decisions.

  • What is your investment design philosophy?

    Asset Allocation (diversification) is the strategy of spreading investments over a variety of different asset classes and management styles in order to reduce the risk of substantial loss. Lack of proper diversification can cause investors to miss unexpected opportunities and/or expose them to unforeseen investment pitfalls. Allocating capital according to a carefully planned diversification guide enables investors to achieve the greatest possible risk adjusted, after-tax return, commensurate with their needs, willingness to bear risk, and need for current cash flow.

    Although we are familiar with the criticisms, there is little disagreement that asset allocation/portfolio policy is a significant determinant of long-term portfolio performance. We believe in maintaining a forward looking strategic asset allocation for core holdings and only infrequently revising that allocation. We believe in broad rebalancing to the strategic asset allocation; however, the influence of taxes and transaction costs leads us to conclude that rebalancing with fairly wide bands of latitude is the most appropriate solution.

    Passive index based investment options have expanded substantially in the last 20 years and the expenses have plummeted to less than 0.1% in many cases. It is difficult to reliably find active managers that can constantly outperform an index after adjustments are made for their much higher expenses and portfolio turnover (taxes). As a result, we believe an actively managed portfolio of passively based index investments is the best solution for the majority of clients.

  • Will I see a list of investments before they are purchased?

    Absolutely. When we first work with a client, we will collaborate and establish an appropriate asset allocation. We then provide an Investment Policy Statement (IPS) that will include a detailed asset allocation. Prior to implementation of the policy, we will discuss, in detail, the specific recommended investments we will utilize to implement the IPS.

  • Can you discuss your firm's investment performance?

    Due to the fact that each of clients' portfolios are tailored based on their asset size, mix of taxable and qualified assets, tax bracket, risk tolerance, and individual preferences, we do not have firm performance numbers that are available. We can, however, share with our clients a list of the current managers included in the portfolio and their performance over the preceding years. Our rebalancing parameters force us to buy equities when the market is dropping (i.e., buy when the market is low and cheap) and sell equities when the market is rising (i.e., sell when the market is high and expensive). This helps to take profits off the table in a rising equity market and to buy at a low point in a falling equity market.

  • Will you hold my money?

    No. We are a registered investment advisor, not a broker dealer. We hold no client assets. The only funds we receive from clients are the management fees. We recommend the establishment of accounts at major low-expense brokerage custodians like Charles Schwab.

  • How often will I get reports from you?

    Although custodians send reports with transactions and other in formation on a monthly basis, we provide a comprehensive customized quarterly report.