Who is PFA and what do you do?

PFA is a Fee-Only, Independent, Investment Adviser registered with the SEC. This means we serve as your Fiduciary, never accept commissions or additional compensation beyond the fees that we charge and are built on a foundation of transparency and loyalty to YOU.

We are a small, Maine-based, team and are 100% independently owned and operated. There are no corporate business partners or broker-dealers influencing our relationships with you. We maintain two offices in Maine, one in Bangor and one in Portland, and have been operating here for over 20 years.

Everything we do at PFA, we do as a team. We are structured in committees and our people specialize in work they are skilled at and love doing. Our investment decisions, financial planning challenges, ongoing operations – and the list goes on – are all tackled and implemented as a team. You will have a central point of contact on our team, but expect to communicate with multiple team members over the course of our relationship as your needs touch on their area of expertise.

In terms of what we do, PFA is pretty simple. We perform two services for clients:

Our Wealth Management is a holistic service, covering both your planning needs and investing your assets on a discretionary basis. The vast majority of our clients work with us on BOTH their Financial Planning and Asset Management needs (which we call Wealth Management).

While we are based in Maine, we serve clients nationally. Most of our clients are individuals and families although we do work with some businesses and non-profit entities.

We welcome an opportunity to get to know you. Feel free to schedule an introductory meeting at no cost.

Are you a fiduciary?

The Simple Answer to This Question at PFA Is: “Yes, 100% of the Time.”

For those unfamiliar with the term, operating under a fiduciary standard means PFA, and all of our associates, are bound to act in our client’s best interests and not place our own interests and profit ahead of our client’s. It’s a duty of care, loyalty, and transparency and is a foundation of trust.

It probably feels like a straightforward moral obligation that all Financial Advisors should be held to, but unfortunately, the world of personal finance is complex. Items that can affect an Advisor’s status as a fiduciary include licensing/registrations, multiple regulatory standards, obligations to a code of ethics under a professional designation, etc… Additionally, because advisors can maintain multiple registrations, some advisors can work in a hybrid capacity where they are fiduciaries some of the time, and other times held to less stringent standards of care.

To complicate matters further, there are different terms and fee models for all of this. You may see/hear terms like “Financial Advisor,” “Fee-Based Advisor,” or “Fee-Only Advisor.” These terms give you clues about an advisor’s status as a fiduciary and how they make money, but you have to dig further.

For now, understand that PFA is a “Fee-Only” Advisor. This is the ONLY model that commits to a fiduciary capacity 100% of the time. It also means we do not earn additional revenue from the investments we use, or any other source.

If you are interested in more details on the Fiduciary Standard in our industry, see our blog, podcast, or click HERE to chat with an advisor.

We would love to tell you more about what it means to be a fiduciary. Feel free to schedule an introductory meeting at no cost.

How are you compensated?

PFA is a Fee-Only Advisor. This means we are only paid through the fees we charge to our clients, and CANNOT be compensated through ANY other means. No commissions, no revenue sharing from investments, no insurance sales – or anything else you can think of.

It’s important to understand that our Fee-Only model is NOT the same as Fee-Based. A Fee-Based advisor maintains registrations with both the SEC and FINRA, meaning they can charge fees for advice under a Fiduciary standard (SEC) OR sell products/securities for a commission under a Suitability standard (FINRA). A Fee-Only Advisor is the only model that commits to a Fiduciary standard and NO commissions.

Why do we do it this way? Every advisory practice has conflicts of interests, but those related to money and compensation are always the most concerning. Our Fee-Only model minimizes conflicts of interest with clients and gives you comfort that our investment advice is not motivated by compensation you are unaware of. Our fee structure is transparent, independent and aligned with your interests.

Want to learn more about our compensation structure? Click HERE to grill an advisor on the topic!

What are your fees?

What are your fees?

There are a few ways you can choose to engage with PFA. However, one item we do NOT charge for is the introductory process. If you’d like to schedule a meeting to discuss your goals/needs, get to know each other and understand these fees feel free to do so. We will spend the necessary time to ensure our relationship is mutually beneficial before engaging.

Now, let’s get into our fees. We have fee schedules based on the services you need:

Wealth Management

The vast majority of our clients work with us in a Wealth Management capacity. This is our most holistic service and a good fit if you are looking for a long-term partner to assist in both your financial planning and asset management needs. We charge a tiered percentage fee based on the assets you manage with us:

Asset Under ManagementAnnual Fee
$0 – $1,000,000*1.00%
$1,000,000 – $5,000,0000.60%
$5,000,000 +0.40%

*There is a minimum annual fee that ranges from $3,900 to $6,300 depending on your household assets and complexity. Fees are withdrawn directly from your managed portfolio or invoiced for payment.

For more detail, see our dedicated Wealth Management page.

Financial Planning

This service is a good fit if you are a young professional, do not have assets to manage yet, or just prefer to manage your own investments. It’s also a way you can choose to get started with us without committing your assets – you can transition to a more holistic relationship down the road! We believe quality Financial Planning should be accessible, so we charge an annual fee based on your household assets and level of complexity.

Our Financial Planning fees range between $3,900 to $6,300 per year depending on your household assets and level of complexity.

  • You can choose to pay this fee upfront, or monthly – your preference!
  • For more detail, see our dedicated Financial Planning page.

What We Don’t Do

PFA does not perform hourly or project-based services. We are holistic advisors and our service/pricing is structured to work with individuals and families who need a partner in improving their overall financial health and/or investment outcomes.

What do I get for the fee?

The specific details of the services you will receive depends on how you choose to engage us, but rest assured that as a client of PFA you will ALWAYS receive the following:

  • A dedicated team of qualified professionals working towards your goals
  • Proactive communication and advice
  • On-demand access to our team with timely responses
  • Straight talk

Now, let’s take an in-depth look at what we provide for each service:

Financial Planning
All of PFA’s Lead Advisors are CFP® professionals.  As such, we work with our Financial Planning clients in a holistic fashion.  We cover the following six core areas:

  1. Cash & Debt Management
  2. Risk Management
  3. Investment Planning
  4. Retirement & Financial Goal Planning
  5. Tax Planning
  6. Estate Planning

Each of these core areas is a LARGE body of knowledge with many subcategories of work.  If you’d like a more detailed list of the services we provide in each area, please see the last page of our Financial Planning Agreement.

In addition to these service areas, you will receive the following benefits and outcomes as a Financial Planning client:

  • A fully customized Financial Plan
  • A financial planning team consisting of a Lead and Support Advisor
  • An execution partner, with step-by-step accountability and hand holding
  • Proactive progress monitoring with continuous plan adjustments
  • Up to two routine plan reviews each year, with active outreach from our team
  • On-demand access to your advisory team with NO limits on meetings, communications or time spent
  • Routine communication and education on a wide variety of key planning areas at timely points throughout the year
  • An ongoing partner dedicated to your financial success

We will begin our work by understanding your financial position and goals, address the items that are “here and now”, and then move on to completing a holistic plan that covers all of the important financial components of achieving your goals.  For more information on our approach for getting this done, see our process here.

Discretionary Investment Management
For clients engaging PFA to manage assets on a discretionary basis, you will also receive:

  • Detailed analysis of your existing investment portfolio
  • Evaluation of your goals, financial position and tolerance for risk
  • Specific recommendations for initial investment strategy
  • Account setup with management of necessary contribution and distribution plans
  • Discretionary management of your assets (buying, selling and rebalancing)
  • Proactive management of tax considerations (asset location, gain/loss harvesting, etc..)
  • Ability to tailor portfolios with your input (socially responsible, sustainable investing, etc..)
  • Up to two routine portfolio reviews each year, with proactive outreach from our team
  • On-demand access to your advisory team with NO limits on meetings, communications or time spent
  • Routine communication from our Investment Committee including weekly market updates and quarterly commentary
  • Ongoing performance reporting vs. benchmarks
  • Online access including a mobile application

PFA is an Independent, Fee-Only, Registered Investment Adviser with the SEC.  Why is this important?

  • Independent: We can utilize the entire universe of investment opportunities to achieve your investment goals and implement strategy.
  • Fee-Only: PFA never accepts commissions or kickbacks from investment products we utilize, so we can select investments without conflicts of interest or being incentivized to push certain products.
  • SEC Registration: We are always held to a Fiduciary standard when managing your assets.

We will begin our work by understanding your financial position and goals, working together to develop an initial strategy, and taking the reins to implement and manage on an ongoing basis.

How do you work with UMS Employees?

Penobscot Financial Advisors (PFA) is a fully independent, fee-only registered investment advisor.  We are primarily Maine-based, with our principal offices in Bangor and Portland.

Over the past 20 years, under our previous name Bradley & Johndrow and since 2010 under our current name, we’ve provided financial planning and investment management services to over 1,000 UMS employees.  We work with faculty, staff, maintenance, police, food-service, administration, researchers, engineers… you name it.

I’ll talk more about how we serve the UMS community, but before I do, I’d like to point out that UMS offers a very attractive range of benefits, including important healthcare and wellness programs, several different retirement plans, and group insurance plans to boot.  For the majority of employees, it’s not an overstatement to say their work at UMS pretty much dominates their lives and has a huge impact on their financial future.

Everyone is an individual.  Everyone comes at finance from a unique angle.  For some, managing their UMS benefits and folding them into everything in their financial lives is something they feel well-equipped to handle on their own.  I envision that these people get up every day, read the WSJ from cover to cover, and spend quite a lot of time researching and understanding all of their choices, and how moves they make today will impact their future.

Others find that they want to take advantage of resources to help them along.  For some, this involves using 800 numbers, web resources, and/or meeting with representatives of companies that UMS hires to provide benefits. For others, though,  something more robust is what they’d like.  Specifically, they want someone to be there as a ‘constant companion’ to them, helping them to negotiate all of the twists and turns along the way, and being there to answer a vast range of questions, like:

  • Can I retire when I want to?
  • Do I need the insurance that’s being offered to me?
  • What choices in my retirement plan should I be using?
  • What areas outside of the UMS plans should I be working on?
  • Should I buy or rent a residence? A Car?
  • How am I going to get my kids through college?
  • How should I take distributions in retirement?
  • Should I pay down debt?
  • At what age should I or my spouse collect Social Security?
  • What kind of tax-saving opportunities am I missing out on?

The list goes on….

Often, for those people, working with a Certified Financial Planner is a good way of staying completely on top of everything financial and steering around mistakes and potholes.

Understanding this, the University System has made their plans very cost-effective and flexible.  Do-it-yourself-ers have efficient and comprehensive tools at their disposal, see our Unofficial Guide to UMS Employee Benefits for some support if you choose to go it alone.  And people who want to work with their own advisor have a unique ability to do so, and to use their TIAA retirement plan as an efficient resource through which to purchase these services.

That’s where we fill a need for so many faculty and staff at UMS.  Working with as many people as we do, we’ve developed an unmatched level of expertise in guiding people through the nuances of UMS benefits and TIAA retirement plans.

Some frequently asked questions:

  1. Are you a vendor to, or under contract with the University of Maine system?
    We are completely independent of the University System.  UMS does not endorse us or any other firm to provide comprehensive planning services for their employees.  People can work with whomever they choose and trust.
  2. Do you work with people outside of the UMS?
    While we work with a large number of UMS employees, we provide our services on a household level, and our financial planning team works together to provide comprehensive planning services for all people, whether with UMS or elsewhere.
  3. What differentiates you from the TIAA representative(s)
    We are independent advisors, not affiliated with or compensated by any other company. We have no financial products to sell, and we are beholden only to our clients.  We serve as fiduciaries to our clients 100 percent of the time.
  4. How much does it cost to work with you?
    We pride ourselves on making quality planning and asset management available to all, under clear and understandable terms. 

You can also reach out to us to get a clear understanding of the costs and benefits of working with PFA as your advisor.  There is no cost and no obligation and you can ask us whatever you like.