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Fiduciaries to Our Clients Since Our Founding 

Coats Financial Planning, Inc. is a pioneering firm in Louisville, offering financial planning and investment advice on a Fee-Only basis for nearly two decades. Today we serve clients in Kentucky, Indiana, Florida and a dozen other states and we offer a staff of three dedicated and qualified financial advisors, two of whom are CFP® professionals. We provide an independent, objective review of your financial situation, and seek a long-term ongoing relationship to help you meet your financial goals. Our client relationships are deep and are conducted exclusively on an ongoing retainer basis.

We put the interests of the client first in everything we do 100% of the time. No exceptions. Make sure any advisor you hire will put that fiduciary pledge in writing. Other than Fee-Only NAPFA-member firms, few will.                                                             

Our Team

Our staff includes two CFP® professionals, trained in-house, with a minimum of 7 years of full-time experience as Fee-Only financial planners. We serve over 110 unique clients on an ongoing retainer basis, consisting of individuals, families, and trusts, many of whom have worked with us for 10 to 15 years. We are proud to note we have exceptionally little turnover of our client base.

Please click on the pictures to learn more about each of our staff members.

Stuart Coats, CFP® Photo

Stuart Coats, CFP®

Founder, President and Financial Planner
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Stuart Coats is the founder and President of Coats Financial Planning, Inc.  As a CFP® professional and NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor, Stuart is proud to provide financial advice to clients located in the Louisville area and all around the country.

Stuart spent a decade in key finance roles at two of the world’s most respected companies, General Electric Co. and Ford Motor Co., before following his true calling as a personal financial planner.

In addition to 30 years of extensive experience as a finance professional, Stuart has two finance degrees – an MBA from Indiana University and a BBA from the University of Kentucky.

Stuart is a CFP® professional and a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor, having undergone a peer review of his financial planning work and accepted the strict code of ethics and fiduciary oath required by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), a nationally-acclaimed organization devoted to providing comprehensive Fee-Only financial planning with the highest level of ethical standards.

A native of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Stuart resides in Louisville with his wife, Anna and daughter, Georgia.

Teri Christensen, CFP® Photo

Teri Christensen, CFP®

Financial Planner
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Teri, a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner, shares the belief that financial planning isn’t just for the wealthy.  People in all stages of life and income levels can benefit from objective advice from a Fee-Only financial planner.  As part of Coats Financial Planning, Teri establishes a fiduciary relationship with each client.

Teri’s personal experience with the value of Fee-Only financial planning after the birth of her first son encouraged her to follow her desire to serve others as a personal financial planner.  She was pleased to be able to rejoin Coats Financial Planning as a Financial Planner after passing the Certified Financial Planner™ exam in July 2010.

“My husband and I were facing an entirely new financial situation with a dependent and one income when I opted to stay home after my first son was born.  While financially educated, I was aware that I did not have all of the tools I needed to adequately prepare our family for our future.”

During the last ten years Teri, through her family, has experienced many of the issues facing clients today, including career change, retirement, the institutionalization and death of a parent due to Alzheimer’s, and a sibling with a life-threatening illness.

“While the CFP® education process gave me the tools to analyze the ‘black and white’, my family history allows me to understand the non-logical, emotional aspects of financial decisions facing clients.”

Teri, a native of Louisville, has lived in multiple states and Germany as a result of her father’s military career.  She currently resides in Elizabethtown with her husband, two sons, one dog, and one cat.  She holds a Finance degree and an MBA from the University of Louisville.

Elijah Essa Photo

Elijah Essa

Financial Planning Associate
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Elijah, a Louisville native, recently graduated from Western Kentucky University in May of 2017. He holds a bachelors degree in Finance with a concentration in Financial Planning, a CFP® Board registered certificate program. Elijah plans to take the CFP® exam to become the fourth CFP® at Coats Financial Planning. 

Laura Boisseau Photo

Laura Boisseau

Client Services Associate
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Laura joined the firm in November of 2015. She is a Louisville native and Bellarmine graduate with a wealth of work experience. She is married to Marc and they have two boys, Matthew and Ryan.

Anna Coats Photo

Anna Coats

Chief Compliance Officer/Operations Manager
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Anna serves as the Chief Compliance Officer and Operations Manager of Coats Financial Planning.  She brings over 20 years experience at Ford and General Electric in Corporate project management and operational compliance to the team, and continues to work part time in Distribution Management @ Haier US Appliance Solutions.

Anna holds two Mechanical Engineering degrees, B.S. from University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri Science & Technology) and M.S. from University of Michigan-Dearborn.  She also is a designated Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics.



Anna resides in Louisville with her husband Stuart and their daughter Georgia.


Libby Thoke Photo

Libby Thoke

Financial Planning Associate
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Libby, a Bedford, KY native, joined the firm in May 2018 after moving back to Kentucky from Maine. She holds a bachelors degree in Biological Science with a minor in Spanish from Clemson University and completed the CFP® Certification Education Program through Northwestern University. Libby passed the CFP® exam in March 2018 and needs only to complete the work experience requirement to become certified. 

Fred Hoch

Administrative Assistant
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Fred joined the firm in May of 2008. A graduate of the University of Tennessee, Fred retired from a long career at Hewlett-Packard. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Fred resides in Louisville with his wife, Jennie.

What Makes Us Unique 

Most financial planning firms lay claim to being independent, unbiased, caring, and competent. However, the facts don't always back up the assertions when you prod beneath the surface. Our firm was founded from the beginning to offer exceptional analytical horsepower and the highest possible ethics. We've gone into some detail here about five areas that we think distinguish us from the herd. Please click on each subject for further details.

Fee-Only and Fiduciary

Our structure of Fee-Only Compensation and a Fiduciary level of care protects the interests of our Clients at all times. As Fee-Only advisors, product sales are prohibited, so all of our compensation comes directly from our clients in a very transparent manner. As NAPFA-Registered Advisors, all of our planners took a fiduciary oath to always act in the best interests of our clients. Unfortunately, the law allows many advisors to give clients the impression they act as fiduciaries but they can take advantage of loopholes in the law to “switch hats” in the implementation part of the process and sell the client commission-based products under a lesser standard of care.

Experience and Depth

Our two veteran CFP® Professionals have combined experience exceeding 25 years of providing high level financial advice to clients, supported by a team of caring and capable staff, allowing us to collaborate to ensure the best possible solution for a client situation. Additionally, the size of our professional staff is larger than most fee-only firms, thus providing a high degree of confidence for the client that the firm will be capable of providing needed assistance in a contingency situation.

Retirement Puzzle Masters

Impending retirement in the modern age can mean dealing with the challenge of combining a dizzying array of accounts and cash flow streams (pensions and Social Security) into an aggregate retirement cash flow stream that is both adequate for a quality retirement lifestyle and sustainable for any conceivable lifespan. This is the ultimate puzzle with high stakes consequences and no one who lacks a career devoted to the practice of true financial planning at a high level could possibly be expected to piece together all these retirement resources into a cohesive plan that is tax-efficient, sustainable and optimal for what is likely a multi-decade retirement period. Oftentimes, the client cannot even fathom all the dimensions of their retirement puzzle that exist until we bring it all into focus. It is important to recognize that when it comes to retirement, there are things you cannot know or appreciate until an expert who lives it every day reveals them to you.

Tax Planning Expertise

We emphasize tax planning as a way we can add significant value for a client at most any stage in life. We bring solid knowledge and application of the tax code and an understanding of how the client tax situation is likely to change over time. We use this insight to help the client keep a higher percentage of their pre-tax retirement assets over time rather than pay it out in taxes. At the end of the day, it is not what you earn that is most important – it is what you keep.

Low Cost Investments

We focus on low cost, tax-efficient and highly transparent investments (generally through indexing) and we maintain a long-term focus without the folly of trying to time the markets. We believe diversification and asset location are far more value-add than trying to beat the market. We also don’t believe in “black box” investments such as hedge funds, which are typically laden with outrageous fees while often failing to deliver on promised returns.

Client Profiles

We have built a diverse client base over the years and we want to keep it that way. The main qualities all of our clients share would include:

  1. They like to be treated fairly and they are committed to treating others fairly (The Golden Rule)
  2. Regardless of how well off they may be, they still generally are grounded by what we might call middle-class values
  3. They understand the value in partnering with a firm like ours on an ongoing basis to make the best use of their hard-earned resources

We have detailed three relatively broad client profiles that are examples of good matches for our expertise. Please click on each profile for further details.

Early-Mid Career Professional (ages 25 – 55)

Many younger workers may not think in terms of the traditional retirement from years past but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t still benefit from an ongoing relationship with a financial planner. Regardless of your views on the concept of “retirement,” financial success equates to more freedom to spend time on what you value most. As a younger worker, time is on your side, providing maximum benefits from the magic of compounding and allowing you to tolerate market volatility by taking the long-term view. In addition to portfolio guidance, we can help in areas such as debt management, risk management (particularly life and disability insurance), executive compensation, and saving for college.

Late Career/Early Retirement (ages 55 – 65)

Most of our new clients come from this age profile. Some wait to contact us until after they have retired or are just weeks or months away from their locked retirement date. Others contact us when they are a year or more away from their target date. We can provide much valuable assistance in any of these scenarios but our services can be most leveraged when we still have a few years before the actual retirement date so that we can help stage the retirement in the best possible fashion. Every client brings their own unique set of circumstances, and we take these puzzle pieces and solve them to produce a logical roadmap to a financially sound retirement.

Retiree (ages 65+)

While current retirees have already made some big financial decisions, we can still provide valuable assistance in such areas as tax planning, portfolio allocation, asset location and estate planning. Opportunities may also exist in areas such as Social Security benefit timing, Roth conversion strategies and charitable gifting.

Our Services

The retainer model is the only way for a new client to work with us with a portfolio of any size. This means we work with the client year-round under an ongoing fee arrangement. We are unable to work with clients on a one-time or project basis due to resource constraints. Click below to read more about the retainer relationship and how the fee is calculated.

Retainer Overview

All of our clients work with us under an ongoing retainer relationship. This means we are under a formal agreement with the client to provide financial advice on any matter at any time in exchange for a monthly fee. The retainer arrangement includes periodic reviews in person or remotely (once or twice per year) as well as implementation assistance. Whenever new matters arise, we are standing by to assist.

When a client has worked hard to accumulate a substantial portfolio, the absolute dollar impacts of suboptimal management of these resources can be huge. We sincerely believe that hard-earned portfolios require the frequent care and attention of a competent finance professional, and we think the cost of our fees can generally be recouped (perhaps a multiple of times) by the benefits of our regular direction. In fact, a recent study by Vanguard found that working with a good advisor can potentially add about 3% to a client’s net annual return. This figure translates to potentially $30,000 of value added annually on a $1 million client portfolio.

Link to Vanguard study is available here.

Pricing

The Ongoing Retainer fee is determined by our assessment of the complexity of the client situation, which begins with a no-obligation Introductory Meeting at which we discuss your current financial situation in some detail. The fee is not based on a typical Assets Under Management (AUM) calculation often associated with Fee-Only financial advisors, which we view as a very arbitrary (and usually more expensive) way to determine how much of our resources will be devoted to serving a given Client.

Our complexity assessment involves a detailed checklist of factors that require a commitment of our resources, knowledge and experience in servicing that client. The magnitude of assets involved and the level of overall household income are just two of many components that go into the calculation of the fee. In most cases, the fee, if converted to the equivalent of an AUM annual percentage, would run well below the 1% AUM benchmark that is often cited in the profession. In addition, if assets grow 20%, the fee will not increase in the same 20% proportion, as it typically would under AUM.

We have no asset minimums but our minimum fee is $333.33 per month, which is $4000 on an annual basis. Most client fees are higher than this minimum level. There is no maximum fee. The fee is assessed at the beginning of each month and starts as soon as the engagement is formalized by the signing of the agreement. It is the same amount each month. The fee can be paid from a combination of sources, such as retirement accounts (to the extent permissible), taxable investment accounts or by credit card.

Because the initial work is the most time-intensive for our staff (including extensive implementation assistance), we ask clients for a 9 month initial commitment to recoup most of the cost of our initial work. After that initial 9 month period, either party is free to cancel the Retainer agreement at any time upon written notice. The agreement automatically renews annually and the fee is subject to periodic review for changes in complexity, assets or income specific to the circumstances of a particular Client. In addition, the formula we use to translate complexity factors into the Client fee is subject to change over time.

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If you are interested in exploring a partnership with us, feel free to contact us by e-mail or phone, and a staff member will be back in touch.