POST UPDATE: Since publication on 6 November 2018, the PlanVision annual price has increased to $149/year. For the record, that’s still a laughably low price for this excellent service.
I never thought I needed a financial advisor until I started writing occasionally for Vagabond Finances. As we brainstormed over the Top expat questions, I began to realize that there were some things in my own finances that I’d neglected or at least had questions about.
Looking around for someone to consult, I received quotes for $300 for a 30-minute session, $3,000 for a full consultation, and $8,000 or more per year (yes, every year!) for someone to actually manage low-cost, diversified index funds. That may be what you need, but it was all too rich for my tastes!
If only there were a financial advisor with expat expertise that didn’t charge thousands of dollars! If only there were an experienced expat advisor who could meet with me long distance, look over my finances including making sure I’m using low-cost diversified funds. If only I could find someone to clearly and visually explain my likely retirement trajectory, my giving potential, how to minimize taxation now and later, and so on. If only such an expert would answer my questions for the next year (yes, a full year!) for $96. That person would definitely leap up the charts on the Vagabond “Best in Class” for financial advisors. That person exists and his name is Mark Zoril.
Who is Mark Zoril?
I first heard of Mark when he was interviewed on the US podcast The Dough Rollers (episode 268). It was a great interview by the host, Rob Berger, who seemed skeptical himself about the need for an advisor. Rob and his listeners (quoted below) were impressed at Mark’s knowledge, software, expertise, and price.
After checking him out online and becoming acquainted with Mark via email and secure video conferencing, I’ve learned that Mark once worked as a product-selling investment advisor before realizing that that particular system is significantly flawed. He’s written about the shady practices of the investment salespeople (that is really what many of them are) and decided to get out, starting his own firm at PlanVision that serves individuals like me who need a financial plan, some occasional advice, and some calm, hand-holding when the market slips 10 or 20%.
Mark is passionate about helping people with their finances. He gave me some specific advice even before I hired him, and he posted a couple of articles for Vagabonds like us. Perhaps the only two things Mark is more passionate about than inexpensively making money work for us Vagabonds are adoptions and his own family (which has adopted).
What do others think of Mark?
Rob Berger and I are not the only ones to like Mark. In his fantastic book, Millionaire Expert, Andrew Hallam has a section entitled, “Why Many Global Expats Are Now Naming Their Newborns Mark”! Mark Zoril has been such a willing, inexpensive help to so many expats that Andrew’s joke isn’t much of an exaggeration.
The well-known, high-earner investing site, The White Coat Investor, calls Mark “a reformed financial salesman who saw the light and now runs his own company”!
On the exceedingly useful, finance-oriented Facebook group, Expats & International School Educators, our webmaster, Mark Mason, posted the comment, “Can I give a shameless plug for one of the forum regulars, Mark Zoril?” The group “blew up,” going ping, ping, ping! The post got 51 likes and comments from people all over the world saying, and I quote:
- I agree! Mark is great! Always answers emails pronto!
- Second that. Mark is great for the FI movement. [FI = Financial Independence]
- I also agree. Very personal and helpful.
- Ditto! Mark Zoril is amazing! Highly recommended.
- We’ve completed one year and need to sign up for our next year as I think this price annually is a bargain!
People chimed in from the United Arab Emirates, Scotland and beyond. And we can’t forget about Rod Berger’s Dough Rollers who first introduced me to Mark. The Dough Rollers Facebook Group had this and much more to say about the $96 per year financial advisor:
- Mark is always there for me. In the past year I must have sent him at least 30 emails. He always responds to them immediately and concisely.
- I love that he does not manage your money. He looks at the full financial picture and makes recommendations based on your current investments and what is available to you.
- I just did my consultation with Mark Zoril with PlanVision — best $96 I’ve ever spent! He was MUCH more thorough than the [name removed] Advisory service and far more encouraging too. He gave me great advice for simplifying my life and giving me confidence moving forward.
- We do a lot of our own reading and planning, but it is helpful to work with someone who is seeing many, many other people and how various retirement planning choices are panning out.
- He followed up with me…and it made me quit procrastinating and do what I needed to do. I recently renewed with Mark for another year.
Good, honest advice without conflict of interest. Did an interview with him recently and I can say that he is the real deal.
This helps make me think that I probably found myself a bang-for-your-buck, “Best in Class” winner in Mark. I’m glad I hired him!
How does this work?
It’s easier than you think. Mark has a spiffy new website at PlanVision. People can go there and watch eight 1-minute videos on his approach and philosophy. There’s an ultra-short FAQ section to get you up to speed, and then you purchase the service. What was the cost again? Oh, yeah, just $96 for the whole year.
Easy, right? What’s more is that Mark recently added a 60-day money back guarantee. If you see it’s not a good fit for you, you can get your $96 back. Will that $3,000 advisor refund your money? Didn’t think so.
You’ll gain access to his powerful, locked-down eMoney software and have an in-depth session with Mark through secure video conferencing. During the in-depth session, Mark will walk you through the eMoney software, showing you projections, planning strategies, suggestions, and the like. Access to the eMoney software for a year is worth $96 all by itself!
Throughout the year, most people will probably just need an occasional response to a question by email. I know I have taken advantage of that several times! However, additional video conferences can be arranged as well if needed. Here too, this kind of personal attention is worth more than my small investment.
I was pretty proud to have once stumped Mark with one of my questions, but even there he proved the importance of having a financial advisor. He called an international tax expert that he keeps on retainer and got me the answer to my question. If I had consulted that international tax expert myself, I believe it would have cost me several times Mark’s annual fee.
How can he do all of that for $96?
I know that part of the answer to this question is in the sheer volume of clients that he has. I know he handles a lot of clients (including my own daughter and son-in-law, a few coworkers, and a few Vagabond friends). He reports that his expat clientele is growing very quickly in recent months.
Another part of the answer is simple efficiency. Mark doesn’t sell you anything (which is a good thing!!!) and he doesn’t manage your money for you (and you probably don’t need that either). Not doing those things is a time-saver for him and a money-saver for us. His eMoney software is second to none and does a lot of the work and graphing for him (and you have full access to it for a year!). Also, for many of us, it takes hours to grapple with a personal asset allocation table and more hours to search online about why most US expats can’t fund an IRAs. That’s normal for Joe and Jane Expat, but Mark has already researched it so he can do that stuff in his sleep (though I hope not literally). It is efficient!
I think the real trick, however, goes beyond volume and efficiency. I think Mark’s secret is that he loves what he is doing. He walked away from the financial “sales” industry. He wanted to help people instead of selling products that profited his company more than them. For someone that loves working with people and knows finances like the back of his hand, this is a perfect job. I often get emails from him on weekends, and he’ll often help me solve a problem for a non-paying client like some of you Vagabonds. He’s not obliged to do that, but something tells me he likes it. There you have it; he can do it because he enjoys it. Isn’t that the same reason you became an American expat — to do what you love doing?
Does Vagabond Finances benefit from this?
No. None of us here at Vagabond Finances makes a dime or gets free services from Mark for this recommendation. Mark didn’t ask me to write this article and is probably a bit mortified by the attention. While it is true that we get a small affiliate or referral fee when people sign up for Transferwise, Personal Capital and a few other Favorite Resources (and we really, really need more of those clicks because our financial model is not keeping the site afloat!).
However, we wouldn’t dare ask for a “cut” of a mere $96 annual fee. We do get the satisfaction of knowing that we’ve helped several people get on the right track with their money because of our suggestion that Mark Zoril just might be the best financial advisor for the US expat teacher, missionary, or small-scale entrepreneur.
All of that for $96 which includes a 60-day, money back guarantee! What more could we ask for? Isn’t this simply “Best in Class”? Sign up today and tell him you’re another one of our beloved “Vagabonds” who is interested in his service. We won’t earn a dime, Mark won’t earn much, but you’ll make out like a bandit!
For those of you who still have doubts, I’ll close with a lovely quote from Pari Ellis who had this to say on the Dough Rollers Facebook Group:
Hi everyone. I wanted to bring you up to date with my contact with Mark Zoril. I have talked to several financial advisors who wanted to change everything about my portfolio and sell me new products. And then charge me up to 1% to manage my portfolio. I never felt comfortable with any of them. I am glad that I listened to the podcast that Rob [Berger of Dough Rollers] did with Mark Zoril. I knew that [I] could trust him and I loved his integrity and his organic approach to[o].
Needless to say that I am working with him. He has created a great financial plan for me. Which I feel very comfortable with. His services have not stopped there. Every time I have a question, I send him an email and if he is in his office, he writes me back immediately. I feel that I won the lottery when I met Mark. I have been looking for somebody like him for a long time and I feel honored to be working with him. I highly recommend him. It would be the best $96 that you would spend.