Item 1 Cover Page – Dated 2022-01-06
This document is a required regulatory bit of disclosure for Ward Williams, Principal Advisor and owner of Better Tomorrow Financial (a trade name of Long Habit LLC, owned solely by Ward, who is based in Seattle, Washington.) In case you want to look us up with the SEC, our CRD number is 311995.
Where we can meet
We almost always meet with clients exclusively online. For those clients that prefer in-person meetings, we can make house calls or meet in a semi-private space (ex: coffee shop near us both) for people who have been fully COVID vaccinated and live only with other fully vaccinated people. Ward is fully vaccinated against COVID (including booster shot) and the flu as of January 2022.
Ward’s direct email is email@example.com.
Required regulatory statement:
This brochure provides information about the qualifications and business practices of Better Tomorrow Financial. If you have any questions about the contents of this brochure, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The information in this brochure has not been approved or verified by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission or by any state securities authority. Additional information about Better Tomorrow Financial also is available on the SEC’s website at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. Furthermore, registration as an Investment Advisor does not guarantee any particular skills, training or competence.
Item 2 Material Changes – Our comprehensive financial planning fee increased from $2,980 in 2021 to $3,500 for 2022. We charge an annual fee of $1,000 for portfolio management + ongoing incidental financial planning support, which includes an annual meeting, for client who would like to hire us AFTER the first year of comprehensive financial planning.
Item 3 Table of Contents
Item 1: Cover Page – Page 1
Item 2: Material Changes – Page 1
Item 3: Table of Contents – Page 2
Item 4: Advisory Businesses – Page 3
Item 5: Fees and Compensation – Page 4
Item 6: Performance‐Based Fees and Side‐By‐Side Management – Page 6
Item 7: Types of Clients – Page 6
Item 8: Methods of Analysis, Investment Strategies and Risk of Loss – Page 6
Item 9: Disciplinary Information – Page 7
Item 10: Other Financial Industry Activities and Affiliations – Page 7
Item 11: Code of Ethics, Participation or Interest in Client Transactions and Personal Trading – Page 7
Item 12: Brokerage Practices – Page 8
Item 13: Review of Accounts – Page 8
Item 14: Client Referrals and Other Compensation – Page 8
Item 15: Custody – Page 8
Item 16: Investment Discretion – Page 8
Item 17: Voting Client Securities – Page 9
Item 18: Financial Information – Page 9
Item 19: Requirements for State‐Registered Advisers – Page 9
Item 4 Advisory Business
Better Tomorrow Financial, a trade name of Long Habit LLC, owned and operated solely by Ward Williams, and was registered in the state of Washington as an Investment Advisor in 2021.
Better Tomorrow Financial offers step-by-step, fiduciary, fee-only financial planning that covers all the important financial topics in your life.
During this process we will gather all the relevant information that you provide us on your goals, age, tax status, income, assets & debts, current financial and life situation, career, family, your feelings around money, and the level of financial education, your investment objectives, investment time horizons, investment experience, cash flow needs, risk tolerance, and comfort you feel with respect to your finances.
Topics that we will cover together may include
* investment recommendations (including minimizing fees & taxes). I generally recommend index funds, especially Target Date funds for long-term investing.
* banking and how to automate your financial life and goals: choosing a good bank. Automating your banking.
* specific savings ideas and optimizations: how to cut costs to save more.
* employer benefits checkup and recommendations: 401k, health insurance, other employer benefits
* debt payoff and management: determining whether and which debts to pay off vs investing more
* insurance (auto, home, renter’s, life, umbrella) – review existing limits, deductibles vs your insurance needs.
* retirement planning / FIRE (Financial Independence and Early Retirement): retirement income modeling, how to retire earlier
* education savings (ex: kid’s college, or you going back to school): 529 plans
* home-buying (if applicable): saving on mortgage rates, refinancing when it makes sense.
* estate planning: wills, trusts (especially important if you have minor children), setting your beneficiaries, powers of medical & financial attorney
Under the comprehensive financial planning package, during the 90 days we will meet at least 3 or 4 times for 2 – 3 hours at a time to put together and accomplish your unique financial plan. After our initial intensive set of meetings, we will have a follow up a month or two later to see how the plan is working, and make tweaks as needed. We might then schedule another follow up, or at least touch base a few months later. Our sessions typically total between 12 – 18 hours of 1:1 time.
By the end of our first year of sessions, you not only will have a set of financial steps designed for you and presented to you in written format for you to keep and refer to, you will have already accomplished most of them, and will have clear steps to take to finish off the rest.
See our annual retainer program below for clients who would wish to continue to have access to us past the conclusion of the financial planning session.
Depending on the topics covered, we will likely meet over video chat or in-person four to five times over the course of ninety days, our schedules permitting.
Meetings together and Advisor’s work for Client (duplicated from our Financial Planning Agreement):
First meeting: 90 minutes to 2 hours: ‘get to know you’ sessions: gather information, talk about your current financial state, goals, life & family situation, and any other issues you would like to discuss.
In between: I will draw up an action plan for both of us during & after the first meeting. We’ll each do some homework over the next week or two before our second meeting.
Meetings two through four: 2 – 3 hours: these will be ‘working’ meetings where we check in on progress, action items, and I guide you through steps like opening accounts, managing investment choices, employee benefits elections, insurance changes, estate planning documentation, changing service providers to save money, and setting up your new conscious spending / banking plan.
In between: we each work on our actions in between meetings, and tag up as needed over text, phone, or email to keep the ball rolling.
6-8 week checkup / final meeting: after we’ve implemented everything we can for you in the short-term, we’ll have a final official meeting to see how your new financial systems are working for you, tweak anything, and be clear on anything else that you still might need to do. (E.g.: get estate planning docs notarized, change benefits during your company’s next open enrollment, adjust your Roth IRA contributions next year.)
We’ll stay in touch anytime you need me for up to 1 year from the date of this contract. If you foresee needing any on-going help after that, I recommend my ‘retainer’ program where you pay a small monthly fee and have unlimited access (within reason!) for any emergent financial issues that come up during your life. This program is only for clients who have completed the full financial planning session described above and will be agreed to be a separate agreement.
After 1 year from the date of this contract (upon which it shall expire), any additional services or reviews may be performed in another contractual engagement with Us.
Adviser tailors advisory services to the individual needs of clients. Clients may impose restrictions on investing in certain securities or types of securities. Adviser does not participate in a wrap fee program. Adviser does not manage client assets and, therefore, does not disclose any assets under management on a discretionary or non-discretionary basis. Clients have the option to purchase recommended investment products through any broker or agent of their choice. These custodians/brokers/agents may charge the client additional fees, for example, expense ratios for mutual funds, brokerage fees, or custodial fees.
After completion of contracted investment advisory services or delivery of an agreed financial plan to the client, if the client requests any additional advisory services, any further reviews will be performed in another contractual engagement with the client.
Item 5 Fees and Compensation
In all instances, the Adviser will send the client a written invoice, including the fee, the formula used to calculate the fee, the fee calculation itself, and the time period covered by the fee. The Adviser will send these to the client concurrent with the request for payment or payment of the Adviser’s advisory fees.
We earn our salaries entirely from you, the client. All fees will be invoiced to you in writing electronically, as well as communicated verbally, payable by electronic means or physical check. We do not receive any kickbacks– more charitably called ‘commissions’ or ‘profit sharing’– from selling you any mutual fund, insurance, annuities, banking, or other financial product.
We differ from many advisory practices in that we do not charge any percentage of ‘assets under management’ to manage your investments. Instead, we help you select your investments, but guide you to implement the choices we decide on. We believe this avoids locking you into our investment services, and ‘forces’ you to learn the bare minimum we think everyone should know about investing. For the average family that seeks financial advice, this will save you thousands per year that would otherwise disappear from your investment account without you paying much attention.
For our standard package we charge a flat financial planning fee of $3,500, but this is negotiable based on your needs and your income (see discounts below.) All of our flat fees are roughly proportional to our hourly rate multiplied by the expected number of hours we spend in meetings with you. You can compare our fees to what typical planners charge. Make sure to factor in the fact that you won’t pay 1% of your assets in fees every year with us, only a flat $1,000 (or $90/month = $1,080) per year AFTER the first year of financial planning is completed.
For billing purposes, we count a ‘person’ as a financial unit, so long-term committed couples are counted as one ‘person’ and are encouraged to attend sessions together if they would like to.
We will not turn anyone away because of lack of income, so talk to us if you can’t afford this fee and we’ll see how we can guide you. Our mission is to bring high-quality, unbiased financial advice to everyone that wants it.
Full payment is due at or right after our first meeting unless otherwise specified in our contractual agreement.
Partial refund for time not spent on flat fee work:
This is very rare, but if for some reason the work I do for the flat fee takes less time than the fee divided by my hourly rate, you will receive a refund of the difference.
For example, if I spent less than our hourly fee divided by $250/hour working on your behalf in meetings with you or on my own, you will receive a refund of the difference. If I, say, spent only 8 hours in meetings with you and 2 hours on my own working on your behalf, you would only pay $2,500 (10 hours * $250/hour = $2,500) and receive the difference back
(Of course, if we spend more time than estimated by my flat fee, you do NOT owe anything extra when paying the flat fee.)
Any refund will be based upon the originally agreed or discounted hourly fee rate per person as shown above.
For any fees paid in advance (such as the Monthly Retainer Program), if the service that is provided does not meet the required hourly threshold, the amount due will be reduced according to the service that was completed and any unearned fee will be refunded to the client. Invoices will be accompanied by any refunds. See the ‘Early Termination’ section for more about what must be included in these refund invoices.
In the event of early termination by the client verbally or in writing (email is preferred), meetings already conducted will be billed at our hourly rate, and any completed materials will be handed over to the client.
Please note, unless a client has received the firm’s disclosure brochure (this document) at least 48 hours prior to signing the investment advisory contract, the investment advisory contract may be terminated by the client within five (5) business days of signing the contract without incurring any advisory fees and without penalty.
We will try to save you at least that much money as your financial planning fee by reducing your investing costs, taxes, and other expenses. If we fail to provide as much in value as we charge you, we are very open to refunding you the difference between what we agree our services were worth to you and what we charged.
The Adviser shall provide an invoice to the client showing the amount of earned fees retained by Adviser and the amount of fees returned to the client. This invoice must contain all information required by WAC 460-24A-106(1)(b)(ii) and WAC 460-24A-135, including the fee(s) charged, the formula used to calculate the fee(s), the fee calculation itself, and the time period covered by the fee(s).
We accept checks and electronic payments (ex: Zelle, your bank’s ACH bill pay), including electronic checks. We will normally bill you from our bank account (Bank Novo) and send the invoice to your email address. Only electronic payments are allowed for the Monthly Retainer Program.
For fees paid by an electronic funds transfer, the Adviser will use an independent 3rd party payment processor in which the client can securely input their banking information and pay the advisory fee through their own secure portal. The Adviser will not have continuous access to the client’s banking information and that advisory fees will be paid through “one-time payment” requests for each billing period.
If you chose instead to hire us hourly, our rate is a $250/hour of time spent meeting together. This fee already includes any time we spend on our own researching and putting together your plan. I.e.: you only pay for the actual face time with us, not for the time we spend on your plan away from you.
Annual Retainer Program
For clients who complete our flat-fee financial planning session and have reached the one year mark since we began meeting, we offer an annual retainer program, agreed to in writing annually and paid electronically either on the 1st of each month in $90 installments ($1,080/year) or at the beginning of the year for $1,000/year.
This Retainer includes:
1) a 1 or 2 hour annual review where we meet to see how you’re doing and address any needed changes to your investments, insurance, or other areas,
2) incidental access to us for one-off questions or occasional short meetings of up to an hour or so. It’s designed as a relatively low-cost way for you to have us on-call any time you have an emergent financial question or life situation.
For example, maybe you change jobs and have questions about what 401k option to choose, how much to contribute, or what benefits to select. Maybe you have a child and need help setting up a college savings plan for them. Maybe you’re thinking about buying a new car, whether to sell or rent out a home, quit your job, or something else that you’d like our expert advice on
The program is cancellable anytime in monthly increments. You will be pro-rated back any unused months, even if you paid upfront (you will then be charged the monthly rate for the past months.)
If no service is provided to the client, the unearned fees will be refunded to the client and the client will not be charged during this annual time period. If the client agrees, in writing annually to continue the service, the Adviser will make reasonable efforts to document and update client suitability information. Better Tomorrow Financial will not require or solicit prepayment of more than $500 in fees per client, six months or more in advance.
Item 6 Performance-Based Fees and Side-By-Side Management – We do not charge any performance‐based fees.
Item 7 Types of Clients – We generally work with individuals, but are available to advise small to medium trusts or nonprofits as well. We also work with corporate clients who want to hire us to teach a group session to their employees advising them on how to select the right investments in their 401ks and how to make good choices on the rest of their employee benefits such as health care and life insurance.
Item 8 Methods of Analysis, Investment Strategies and Risk of Loss – We recommend passively investing in broad-based, low-fee index funds. Our asset allocation recommendation is stocks for the long-run, and bond funds or cash for the short- and medium-term. We do not recommend that individual investors try to pick individual stocks, nor will we do so on your behalf.
Minimizing taxes and investing fees are of the utmost importance to your investment returns (including fees you are paying to any financial advisors!)
Risk of loss in investing
Investing in securities involves risk of loss that clients should be prepared to bear.
There is always a risk of loss in stocks and other investments. Market-wide stock market declines in the US have historically been temporary, but there is never any guarantee of that. We think every stock investor should be mentally prepared to endure, and to expect some day, a drop of 50% in their portfolio value that persists for at least a couple of years. Google ‘the Great Depression’ if you really want to think about worst-case scenarios.
We believe in a ‘buy and hold’ strategy and do not recommend selling out positions in the middle of a market decline when you do not need the money, or in trading frequently, which often incurs fees and taxes. We also do not advise having money you’re counting on spending in the next 1 to 3 or 5 years in stocks.
We think this combination of prudent asset allocation combined with a buy and hold approach to broadly diversified, low-fee index funds gives you the best chance at generating reasonable returns while minimizing the risks of permanent capital loss.
Specific risks of the index funds we recommend
In the index funds that we recommend, the main risks are exposure to the total stock market (for all stock funds), interest rate risks for long or medium-term bond funds (the risk that rates rise which can cause your bond fund value to decline; we often recommend short-term bond funds to minimize this risk), and some foreign currency risk for international index funds.
Because we only recommend broadly-diversified index funds you are not exposed to risks pertaining to specific companies or single industries.
We also only recommend bond funds with a high degree of US government bond assets in order to minimize the default risk (the odds that the bond issuer won’t pay you the interest and principal of the bond) that the corporate bonds in these funds entail.
We believe that so-called ‘fundamental analysis’ based on expected future cash flows and an assessment of probabilistic risks is the only rational way to select investments in companies (e.g.: stocks) or other products. We might use these techniques if you wish us to comment on individual stock investments already in your portfolio, but again, we recommend against investing in individual stocks and recommend index funds instead.
Fundamental analysis is prone to risks of forecasting error, judgment error on the part of the analyst, and incorrect financial information.
We don’t use technical ‘analysis’, the predicting of future price movements of an investment based on past ones. We do not encourage speculation, defined as hoping for prices to go up while having no rigorous, fundamental analysis for believing that will happen. This means we cannot recommend cryptocurrency, or currency in general (except US cash), real estate, gold, hot stock tips, ‘penny’ stocks, or any other speculative ‘investments’.
We want you to get rich over the years instead of going broke over the months.
Item 9 Disciplinary Information – We have had no disciplinary actions taken or proposed against us, and have never and are currently involved in no civil, legal, or other proceedings.
Item 10 Other Financial Industry Activities and Affiliations – We have no other financial industry activities or affiliations. We have no other employment as of writing.
Item 11 Code of Ethics, Participation or Interest in Client Transactions and Personal Trading
Our complete Code of Ethics
We have a fiduciary duty to all our clients, which means everything we recommend will be entirely for your own benefit. As mentioned above, we only accept money from our clients for this reason. We also ‘eat our own cooking’: my personal financial assets and those of my wife, parents, and other family members that I advise reflect the same low-fee index fund-based investment advice I will give to you. The non-investment-related advice I give is also what I myself practice, or reflects what I would do if I or a close relative of mine were in your situation.
We pledge to be confidential, transparent, candid, thorough, and give well-researched advice and clearly present our actionable steps to you based on your goals, as well as help you step-by-step in accomplishing them.
We will keep your data secured and prevent unauthorized access to it. We will not discuss anything we talk about together in a way that would connect you to that information with any third party without your consent.
Of course, if you participate in group sessions, or with your long-term partner/spouse/family present as our meetings, you are responsible for sharing or not sharing with them.
The Adviser owes the client a fiduciary duty to put the Client’s interest first which includes, but is not limited to, a duty of care, loyalty, obedience, and utmost good faith. We have no material financial interest in any recommendations made to clients. We are not involved in any front-running activities. We will not use insider knowledge or non-public material to make any investment decision or trade.
Item 12 Brokerage Practices – We recommend you choose a brokerage that offers low-fee products and has a track record of looking out for client interests, and has the technology you need to help you succeed easily. We have NO relationships with ANY of the financial services providers we recommend below (or any we don’t recommend!)
For clients opening brand new accounts, Fidelity is our recommended choice for their very good suite of low-fee investment choices as well as their account offerings and technical tools. Fidelity is currently our standard recommendation for opening brokerages, IRAs, and 529 plans.
No longer recommending Vanguard for new accounts:
Formerly, Vanguard was our recommended choice, but starting October 2021 and as of January 2022, they have majorly screwed up their website to the point that new clients can’t even open accounts online. Thus, we are sad we can no longer recommend them, because Vanguard is our recommended choice for client who ALREADY have accounts there both for their suite of great investment options as well as their client-focused history and unique ownership structure. (Ward has virtually all of his family’s investment assets with Vanguard, and has for many years.)
For personal banking, we highly recommend, and use, Capital One 360. Ally Bank also works, and BECU is an ok choice as well if you can suffer through their poor web site functionality… I recommend and use Novo Bank for business banking. We receive no compensation from any of these banks.
Big banks like Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo have histories of screwing over their customers through outright fraud as well as exorbitant fees, and we strongly recommend you escape from their evil clutches. It’s well-worth the hour or so of work to switch to a good bank that will treat you right financially.
The Advisor does not manage client assets and, therefore, does not aggregate trades for clients’ accounts. We receive no compensation, client referrals, or soft dollars from Vanguard, Fidelity, Capital One, or any other financial service provider, for this recommendation. You may pay higher fees for using a broker other than Vanguard or Fidelity.
Item 13 Review of Accounts – After our initial set of financial planning meetings is concluded, we recommend at least an annual checkup via our Retainer program (see item 5 above), or anytime you have major questions or life changes. Clients can always call, email or text us with a quick question, which we highly recommend before making any significant financial decision. It’s much easier to avoid a bad financial decision than to repair the damage later.
After you complete the initial 1:1 sessions with us, inquire about our annual retainer program that gives you access to us for a low annual fee that is cancellable at any time.
Item 14 Client Referrals and Other Compensation – We neither give nor receive any compensation for referrals or anything else. Only our clients compensate us.
Item 15 Custody – We do not and will not have custody over any clients’ funds. Your broker/custodian (e.g.: Vanguard/Fidelity) will send you quarterly and annual statements regarding your investments.
Item 16 Investment Discretion – We will not have control of or access to your financial accounts. That means we cannot vote your securities either. We therefore will not have discretionary or non-discretionary trading authority over your account.
Item 17 Voting Client Securities – Clients will receive their proxies or other solicitations directly from their custodian or transfer agent (e.g.: Vanguard), and thus they will not be voted by Better Tomorrow Financial. Clients can contact me with questions about a particular solicitation such as a tender offer or other corporate action.
Item 18 Financial Information – We have never been financially insolvent or bankrupt (quite the opposite), and do not require any prepayment of fees over $500 more than 6 months in advance from rendering services. We do not have any financial condition that is reasonably likely to impair our ability to meet contractual commitments to clients.
Item 19 Requirements for State-Registered Advisors
Ward Williams (CRD: 5770820) was born in 1983 and has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business (graduated 2011.) Prior to that, he majored (B.S., U of Washington, graduated 2004) and mastered (M.S., U of Oregon, 2006) in Physics, and minored in Math at the UW.
Ward has worked as an engineer, a federal contractor, for a financial company in the risk management department, and then in technology as a Business Analyst/Data Scientist for Amazon, Uber, and Facebook among others for several years. (Here’s Ward’s LinkedIn profile which details all this.)
Ward grew up in the Seattle area and loves the Pacific Northwest and its people, and wants them all to thrive financially, so drop him a note.
Ward has never been found liable in a civil, self-regulatory organization, arbitration, or administrative proceeding involving investment-related business or activity. He has no relationship or arrangement with any issuer of securities.
Business Continuity – Two things could foreseeably disrupt our business in a big way:
1) your Advisor, Ward, dies, or is maimed in a way that he cannot serve you. (He’s in good health.) Since you retain full control of your assets, and will have had some rudimentary education about them, you should still be in good shape. If you were to desire another advisor, I recommend picking a fee-only, fiduciary financial planner at www.napfa.org, and do NOT pay them a percentage-based AUM. Flat fees paid for ongoing or one-time advice are preferable. (Never go to anyone who earns commissions from selling you products like the shysters at Ameriprise, Edward Jones, Raymond James, or any other numerous ‘wealth management’ firms that get commissions. Avoid life insurance companies too unless you’re buying plain vanilla term life insurance.)
2) Google’s suite of office tools, including Google Drive where client files and our advisor tools are stored securely (and backed up), goes down. This could cause a temporary outage requiring us to reschedule meetings. I would not expect any data to be lost or any substantial problems. As a security precaution, do NOT publicly post or share any of the links to the files I share with you such as your Google Spreadsheet info.
Since all of our information and software is online and backed up in the cloud, we expect no disruptions in service due to natural disasters or other force majeure circumstances, unless of course they result in items 1) or 2) above.