James Twining

James Twining CFP®

About James

“Experienced CFP, fee-only, Independent RIA, passive investment philosophy, DFA qualified”

I believe that investors have been taken advantage of by the investment industry for far too long.  I want investors to have a more positive experience; to rely upon unselfish advisors who honor their values and care about them as people; to have some semblance of financial security and to achieve success.

My experience as a broker taught me the dark side of the investment business;  the obsession over sales and revenue, the hidden costs, the conflicts of interest, and the lack of interest in delivering comprehensive financial planning that is so crucial to the successful attainment of important goals.

That experience has given me the ability to easily spot the common vices in the investment business, and motivated me to become completely independent in order to engage in more virtuous business practices. I partner with clients to manage their wealth with a focus on reducing conflicts of interest, containing their costs, and providing total transparency.  I deliver comprehensive financial planning advice, behavioral coaching, and education.  This is of great value to my clients; far more than mere investment portfolio design and management.


, , Loyola Marymount Univesity, University of Southern California




Individual CRD #1225894

Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a designation issued by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards

Educational/Exam Requirements:

  • Completion of CFP-board registered study program, or alternative degree or certification, demonstrating mastery of over 100 topics surrounding financial planning
  • Pass 10 hour exam testing knowledge in financial planning situations

Prerequisites/Experience Requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree (or higher) from an accredited college or university, and
  • Three years of full-time personal financial planning experience

Public Disciplinary Process? Yes

Continuing Education Requirements: 30 hours every two years

Typical Clients

Executives People near retirement Seniors

How I Can Help

Personal Finance Retirement Investing

Fee Structure

Asset-based Fee-only Commissions Hourly Other Contingency
Learn more about how advisors are paid in our Guide to Advisor Compensation.

Typical minimum Client Assets:



Phone: (503) 549-1246 Address: 103 E Holly St, Suite 505
Bellingham, WA 98225

James has answered 44 questions

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James Twining
Answer added by James Twining | 2567 views
16 out of 17 found this helpful

Many folks are intimidated when buying or selling precious metals.  I'm glad you are there to help

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Many folks are intimidated when buying or selling precious metals.  I'm glad you are there to help your grandmother to sell her gold bars.

First,  you want to deal with a local gold dealer.  Almost all towns have at least one store that buys and sells gold, silver, coins, and other collectibles.  Shipping gold is expensive because 1) it is heavy, and 2) it's value makes insurance necessary.  By bringing the gold bars to a local store yourself, you avoid those costs.

But before you bring the gold to a store, call two or three of them and get price quotes.  Look at the gold bars for any brand names or "hallmarks".  Some of them will add to the value of the bar.  Most bars, however,  are simply worth the "spot"  price of raw gold bullion.  The spot price is a price that is widely quoted.  Compare the quotes and bring the bars to the store with the highest quote.  It should be a price that is quite close to the spot price;  certainly not more than 2% less.

One other item to be aware of:  gold is considered a "collectible"  for income tax purposes.  This means that there is no favorable capital gains tax treatment. Capital gains on gold are taxed at a high 28%.  If your grandmother has income that is low enough,  you may be able to sell portions of her gold each year without tripping an income tax.  For specific tax advice, talk with a competent CPA.  All the best!

James Twining
Answer added by James Twining | 3469 views
21 out of 25 found this helpful

Ah…the age-old debate between commissions and fees!  To really understand the difference, realize

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Ah…the age-old debate between commissions and fees!  To really understand the difference, realize that in the investment business there are not one, but two distinct business models: 

 1) securities sales, and 2) financial advice.

A security salesman may call him/herself a financial advisor, a financial planner, a "fee-based advisor" or any other number of other titles, but the fact is that a security salesman is not being paid to give advice. The proper titles for a salesman include stock broker, registered representative, or insurance agent. Like any salesperson, he/she is being paid a commission to sell a product for a financial institution.  The salesman must be a registered representative
of the institution; so an easy way to identify a salesman is to look on his/her
business card, website, or yellow page advertisement for that term.  If you see the term "registered representative", you are dealing with a salesman,  regardless of the title he/she uses.

Your salesman may be attempting to do the very best he can for you; most do. But there is a
problem:  he doesn’t work for you. He works for, (and is paid by)  the institution he is registered with.  That institution is likely to reward him most for selling products that are highly profitable for the firm.  Those products tend to be the most expensive products for you.  An unscrupulous salesman may sell the products that pay the highest commissions: notorious in this area are limited partnerships, non-traded REITS, fixed and variable annuities, and permanent life insurance policies.  Not coincidentally, these products tend to be illiquid, subject to surrender charges if not held for a number of years, and with high internal ongoing costs.

Some salesmen may frequently buy and sell stocks or bonds within your account as a way to generate commissions.  This practice, known as “churning” is detrimental because of the cumulative costs.

But the biggest problem with a commissioned salesperson is that most of them give biased and inferior financial advice.  They are not paid to give advice, and their judgment is clouded by their end goal of selling a product.  As they say, “You get what you pay for”, and with a salesman, you get a product.

If you want advice, hire an advisor.  An advisor is paid to give advice, not to sell a product.  I would look for the term “fee-only” to insure that you are truly dealing with an advisor. An advisor works for you,  not for an institution.  You pay the advisor directly for advice, and you do not pay commissions, because the advisor does not sell products at all.  Instead of selling products, an advisor buys securities for you.  The conflict of interest inherent in commissioned sales is gone; an advisor generally is paid a fee based upon the size of your account.  You are both motivated to have the account grow; when you prosper, your advisor prospers; when you suffer, your advisor suffers.

The advisor is financially motivated to help you succeed, and that includes selecting securities that are low in cost.  In my experience, investors who rely upon salesman pay on average more than 2.5% per year for their investments when all components of cost are added together  (loads, 12b1-fees, turnover costs, and cash drag).  A cost-conscious advisor who uses a passive strategy is likely to cost less than half of that, even when the fee for advice is included.

The value of advice goes beyond investment selection.  A competent advisor will give valuable advice in all the major areas of a financial plan: cash reserve and liability management, savings and withdrawal rates, education planning, advanced income tax strategy, projections to  determine feasibility of retirement, insurance evaluation and estate transition.  Most importantly, an experienced advisor can act as your “behavioral coach”, preventing you from making costly mistakes such as market timing and holding concentrated positions.  This comprehensive financial planning advice is often a bigger factor in your success than anything else.

In summary, I advise you to retain the services of a fee-only advisor.

James Twining
Answer added by James Twining | 8679 views
24 out of 31 found this helpful

I concur with Jarrett's advice,  and I would add this additional perspective: Using someone else's

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I concur with Jarrett's advice,  and I would add this additional perspective:

Using someone else's money to buy an asset  (like a house)  is sometimes referred to as "leverage".   A lever amplifies an input force to provide a greater output force.  In the same way,  a small amount of home equity (the down payment)  can appreciate dramatically,  even if the home appreciation is modest.  For example,  a $1 million home is purchased with a 10% down payment,  or $100,000.  This $100,000 is the purchaser's equity.  Subsequently the home increases in value by 10% to a value of $1,100,000.  This results in a dramatic equity  increase of 100%, as the equity doubles from $100,000 to $200,000.  Of course if the home depreciates by 10%, the equity disappears.  This volatility in equity is both the blessing and the curse of real estate investing with leverage:  potentially higher return; higher risk.

Another point:  If you hold a significant portion of your investment portfolio in long term fixed income securities,  a long term fixed mortgage can counteract the detrimental effects of rising interest rates and rising inflation.  The long term bonds may be the worst possible investment to hold in an inflationary scenario,  but having a long term fixed mortgage may be the best.  For example, let's assume that the prevailing long term 30 year rate on both U.S. Treasuries and fixed mortgages is 4%.  Subsequently,  both inflation and long term rates rise to 10%.  Your portfolio of 30 year treasury bonds is still earning 4%,  but in real inflation adjusted terms, it is losing 6% per year.  However, you are still only paying 4% on your mortgage, but the balance you owe in real terms is declining by 10% per year. 

In summary,  a long term fixed mortgage can amplify your return on equity in the likely event the home appreciates in value,  and it is also a great tool in an inflationary environment.  Other benefit include the forced savings and the tax advantages.  I would have to know more to give you specific advice, but in general if you have a long time horizon and are willing to invest in equities,  I would likely go the mortgage route.

James Twining
Answer added by James Twining | 11474 views
17 out of 21 found this helpful

The challenge of investing your inheritance is a good one to have.  You will want to make the most

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The challenge of investing your inheritance is a good one to have.  You will want to make the most of it to provide the income you need.  But let's not conclude that in order for you to receive a high income from your account, you need investments that produce a high income.  I know how ridiculous that sounds, so let me explain that a bit further:

Securities can earn you money in two, and only two ways:  1) they can produce income, and 2) they can grow.  The combination of the two is called total return.

Income takes the form of bond interest, stock dividends, or real estate rental payments.  Growth is generally obtained from equity ownership in stock or real estate.

Now here is where it gets a bit tricky for an investor who wants high income:  A bond paying 7% interest sounds better than one that pays 2% interest.  It's not.  It is simply a higher risk investment.  In fact,  investors who reach for high yields have the potential to lose money overall if their bond investments fall in value.

Bonds are often referred to as guaranteed investments,  but remember that a guarantee isn't worth much if the bond issuer is unable to repay you.  A bond issuer with low creditworthiness must pay a high interest rate to entice you,  and those high interest bonds are more likely to lose some or all of their value.  Likewise,  long term bonds generally pay higher interest rates than short term bonds,  but in certain economic environments long term bonds can permanently lose much of their real value.

The moral of the story is that it is not income that matters,  it is total return.  A massively diversified portfolio that includes stock and real estate investments in addition to bonds is likely to have a lower income than a strictly bond portfolio,  but the total return is likely to be higher, and it is more likely to result in a positive investing experience over your lifetime.

My advice in a nutshell?  Don't try this at home. Retain the services of a fee-only CFP who can advise you not only concerning the investments,  but also the planned rate of withdrawal, income tax considerations, and other major areas of your financial plan.



James Twining
Answer added by James Twining | 31809 views
51 out of 75 found this helpful

Others have given some good financial advice;  allow me to address the behavioral aspect of inheriting

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Others have given some good financial advice;  allow me to address the behavioral aspect of inheriting a large lump sum:

Most who inherit a large lump sum think they are rich.  They aren't.  $1 million is not enough to retire successfully for most people.  Your question implies that you will be spending the account down beginning now.  That is likely a mistake.  It would be wiser to invest it for a later retirement;  pretending it is not available for any withdrawals until that time.

Those who accumulate a large account through decades of hard work have a high level of respect for the funds; and are loathe to spend them frivolously.   This is not the case for those who inherit.  In our firm we have a label for those who inherit large lump sums:  we refer to them as "grocery cart clients".  We set aside $200 for the day your account is completely depleted.  It is then used to buy a grocery cart to hold all of your earthly possessions when you are homeless.

I am exaggerating here to make a point:  inheriting a large lump sum can be the worst thing that can happen:   A hardworking person inherits and thinks they are rich.  They quit work and start spending the funds.  In a few years, they are not only broke, but now they are lazy as well.  Don't let that happen to you!

You are likely much more responsible than that:  after all you are serious enough to ask the question.  It is wonderful that you have inherited the funds;  and I hope you don't allow this to become less productive in your work life, or less responsible in your spending.  All the best to you.


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