Reader’s Perspective: Question and Answer with Julie Ford, CFP, Founder of Ford Financial Services, LLC

By Paul Curley | | December 29, 2016

What is working in terms of college financial planning from a fee-only registered investment advisor’s perspective?

This article features an interview with Julie Ford, CFP, Founder of Ford Financial Services, LLC, a registered investment advisor (RIA). Based in New York City, she is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Within the role, she specializes in couples living in cities that range from newlyweds to parents of young children, and helps them to create a clear path towards financial health during potentially turbulent transition periods for her clients. You can learn more at her website of Last but not least, thank you for your time and insight Julie Ford, and please read the article to learn about her perspective on college financial planning. Hope you enjoy, and that the article provides with you an opportunity to learn from your peers.

Question 1 (Paul Curley, Editor of the 529 Dash): How do you integrate college financial planning into your discussions with a client?

Answer 1 (Julie Ford, Registered Investment Advisor): I begin all client relationships by talking about their goals and values. Most clients with kids already have college savings on their mind and list saving for college as a high priority goal. I often have to help them properly reprioritize college savings behind things like building an emergency savings fund, saving for retirement and paying off their own student loans. I also encourage clients to focus less on the rising costs of higher education and more on what’s in their control and possible today. Prior to campus tours and college applications we talk about the complex landscape of financial aid, student loans and scholarships.

Question 2: What is working for you in terms of college financial planning?

Answer 2: I’ve found a lot of success with educating clients on the appropriate ways to save for college (I’m a fan of 529 plans) and helping them balance college savings with other goals. When you can help lower a person’s anxiety and confusion around a daunting topic such as college savings, it frees them up to take action on things they can control today and that’s when you start to see progress and positive change.

Question 3: How can product providers and states better support you?

Answer 3: Product providers could do a better job of educating the public on 529 plans. Most people I speak with have not heard of 529 plans, or if they have, they don’t have one for their child. The audience is big and the more people creating quality content and resources on this topic the better.

Question 4: What key trends do you see in college financial planning going forward?

Answer 4: Here are a few of the trends I see among parents:
— Parents saving in the in the wrong vehicles
— Prioritizing college savings over their retirement
— Under saving in general
— Stressed about the rising cost of college
— Saving for a child’s college tuition why still paying off their own student loans (or other debts)

Editor’s Final Note: Thank you Julie Ford for your time and insight, and much appreciated. Also, thank you to the readers for learning from your peers, for your support and your engagement. Cheers, and may you have a prosperous 2017.