Frequently Asked Questions
At Carroll Financial, we’re here to answer your questions so you can make informed decisions about your financial future. If you have a question that you don’t see answered below please reach out to us.
What do you do?
We specialize in providing intelligent, personalized financial services for individuals and business owners. Many of our clients are either approaching or already in retirement. Others are planning for children’s education and other goals. In addition to offering financial advice, we manage investments in client portfolios based on four financial building blocks:
- Personalized financial planning
- Risk minimization
- Professional money management
- Tax efficiency
Our clients value our ability to combine deep financial knowledge and experience with creative ideas and solutions. As an independent firm, we are under no obligation to recommend specific investments or financial products. Our mission is to put you on the correct path to reach your financial goals. A fundamental aspect of our approach is long-term client relationships. We believe that your interests, as well as ours, are best served by a long-term relationship that allows us to focus on your needs.
How long have you been in business?
Carroll Financial was founded in 1980 by Larry W. Carroll, CFP®.
Does Carroll Financial and its financial advisors act as a fiduciary to their clients?
Yes. Carroll Financial and our financial advisors have acted as a fiduciary to our clients since 1981. We uphold the Fiduciary Standards required of a registered investment adviser by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Our firm takes our responsibility seriously and we are always working in your best interest. A fiduciary standard simply means that an advisor must act in the best interest of his or her client and disclose any potential conflicts of interest that might prevent him or her from acting in a client’s best interest. As you hear about a fiduciary standard in the media, know that our clients already receive this highest standard of care and have since 1981.
How do I become a client?
Simply make an appointment to talk to one of our advisors about your situation. After your initial meeting, you will have a good idea of how we can help you. Some clients come to us for investment management and may transfer existing investment accounts to us. Others come in for a consultation on a specific investment or financial question. Many of our clients were referred to us by friends and family who are also our clients. If you are not sure who to meet with, please give us a call and we can match you with an advisor who fits your needs and can help you achieve your goals.
Is there any cost for me to schedule an initial meeting?
No, there is no fee to schedule an initial meeting with an advisor at Carroll Financial. The initial meeting is a chance for you to meet with an advisor and ask questions and share information about your financial goals and expectations. At that point, you will decide how you would like to proceed.
What are the fees?
We can manage your investments in either of two different compensation arrangements: a traditional transaction-based commission brokerage account, or a fee-based asset management advisory account. Either model may be appropriate depending on your circumstances. In a traditional commission account the client pays, and the advisor receives, compensation based on specific transactions in the account. In a fee-based asset management advisory account the client pays a periodic fee which is a percentage of the value of the account. The fee is not connected to the activity in the account. It is based on the value of the account, so our fee increases only if your account increases in value. Certain conditions may require the use of a traditional brokerage account, and there are minimum values for fee-based advisory accounts.
Carroll Financial is an independent registered investment adviser firm and we are able to recommend the most suitable investments for your situation. We receive no incentive to work with proprietary products and we have no quotas to fulfill.
We provide financial advice to clients in the course of managing their investments. If you engage us solely for financial planning, such as an analysis of your overall financial situation, or consulting on a specific financial issue, such as the selection of investments in company retirement plans, the fee will be determined between you and the advisor based on the scope and complexity of the analysis.
Do the principals of the firm invest money in the same fashion as clients?
Yes. As we often say, “We eat our own cooking.” Our advisors invest their money and accounts for their families in the same way they invest their client’s money.
Can I view my account(s) online?
Yes, you may view your account(s) online using the Client Login page on our website.
Who is Pershing?
Pershing, LLC supports Cetera Advisor Networks with clearing, execution, settlement, custody, reporting and trading services. Pershing is the world’s leading provider of comprehensive, financial business solutions to broker-dealer firms, registered investment advisers and investment managers. Pershing has over $1.5 trillion in assets under administration. Pershing’s parent company, the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, has more than $28 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration.
Who is Cetera Advisor Networks?
Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC is one of the largest independently-managed broker/dealers in the United States with more than 2,400 financial professionals. A full-service registered securities brokerage firm, Cetera Advisor Networks is headquartered in El Segundo, California and offers a wide variety of investments and services through independent financial consultants.
What is the relationship between Carroll Financial, Cetera Advisor Networks, and Pershing?
Cetera Advisor Networks is the highly regulated avenue by which Carroll Financial advisors can offer you securities such as mutual funds, stocks and bonds. Pershing provides Cetera Advisor Networks with custody of client assets, client account statements, trade execution, reporting and other services related to securities accounts.
What does SIPC mean and how does that help me?
The mission of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation is to restore funds to investors with assets in accounts at bankrupt or financially troubled brokerage firms. When a brokerage firm is closed due to bankruptcy or other financial difficulties, and customer assets are missing, SIPC steps in quickly and works to return customers’ cash, stock and other securities. Without SIPC, investors at financially troubled brokerage firms might lose their investments forever or wait years while their assets are tied up in court. Established by Congress in 1970, SIPC estimates that 99% of persons who are eligible have been made whole in the failed brokerage firm cases that it has handled. Our broker/dealer firm, Cetera Advisor Networks, is a member of SIPC.
What is FINRA?
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is a regulatory organization for all securities firms doing business in the United States, including nearly 4,000 brokerage firms and more than 643,000 registered securities representatives. Created in July 2007 through the consolidation of NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers) and the regulatory functions of the New York Stock Exchange, FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective regulation and compliance services.
FINRA’s scope encompasses nearly every aspect of the securities business — from registering and educating industry participants to examining securities firms, writing rules, enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws, informing and educating the investing public, providing trade reporting and other industry utilities and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and registered firms. It also performs market regulation under contract for The NASDAQ Stock Market, the American Stock Exchange, the International Securities Exchange and the Chicago Climate Exchange.
How are my accounts protected?
The Securities Investors Protection Corporation (SIPC) provides $500,000 of coverage, including $100,000 for claims for cash. That means that $400,000 is for securities and $100,000 is for cash in the account.
Most of our clients’ securities are held in advisory or brokerage accounts at Pershing. Assets held in custody by Pershing for clients are protected through Lloyd’s of London with the following coverage in excess of the limits as defined by SIPC: (1) an aggregated loss limit of $1 billion for eligible securities across all client accounts and (2) a per-client loss limit of $1.9 million for cash awaiting reinvestment, within the aggregate loss limit of $1 billion. This excess account protection is the highest level of coverage available in the industry.
The account protection provided by SIPC and Lloyd’s only applies when a SIPC member firm fails financially and is unable to meet obligations to securities clients, but it does not protect against losses from the rise and fall in the market value of investments.