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Introduction to Next Gen Financial Planning

Build confidence in your financial future with professional guidance

Fee-only financial planning and investing for the next generation


Introduction to Next Gen Financial Planning

Build confidence in your financial future with professional guidance

Fee-only financial planning and investing for the next generation


Financial coaching for all of life’s questions

Next Gen Financial Planning is a fee-only financial planning firm in San Diego, California, serving clients locally and also nationwide through virtual meetings. We specialize in helping high-earning professionals in their 20's-40's make better financial decisions, and teach them to use money as a tool to balance today’s pressing needs with tomorrow’s dreams.

We can help you answer the financial questions that you’ve been wondering about such as:

  • What do I want my future to look like, and what role do my financial decisions play as I design my ideal life? 
  • I just had a baby, should I start saving for their college education? What’s the best way to do it?
  • What’s the best way to balance paying down my debt while trying to save for the future?
  • Should I refinance or consolidate my student loans? How do special student loan programs like PSLF, PAYE, and ICR work?
  • I’m thinking about a major life change like getting married or starting a business. How does that affect my finances? 
  • It’s open enrollment time at my company and the options are overwhelming. How do I know which selections to make to maximize my employee benefits? 
  • I want to save for retirement, but how do I know how much I need to contribute or which funds to invest in?
  • I haven’t looked at my life, auto, or home insurance policies since buying them several years ago. Do I have the right coverage for me, and am I paying too much? 
  • Do I need a will, trust, or other estate planning documents? 
  • I just received a big bonus at work! Should I invest it, pay down my mortgage, or finally take that Caribbean diving trip I’ve been itching for?

Once you realize that every decision is a financial decision, it changes the way that you approach planning for your future. We can help you orient your financial picture to align with your goals and values, and provide insight on how all of the puzzle pieces fit together. 


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Providing fee-only financial planning for young professionals in San Diego

Our ideal client

Providing fee-only financial planning for young professionals in San Diego

Our ideal client

We are not your father’s financial planner!

(in fact, we're quite proud of that)

Financial planning is no longer just for your wealthy grandparents with millions of dollars to invest. Unlike many other financial planners out there, we are not simply “willing” to work with Gen X or Gen Y clients like you in the hope that you’ll someday have a large portfolio for us to manage and charge a fee on. 

Our entire service model is built around helping YOU face the decisions that shape your future. We are proud to serve the working professionals in their 20’s-40’s that many old-school financial planning firms will turn away. 

You know you are a good fit to work with us if you are:

  • Eager to learn and take action towards improving your financial life

  • Comfortable with using technology such as Zoom video chats or online banking. We serve clients nationwide through virtual meetings, you don't have to be in San Diego!

  • Looking for personalized service that treats you like the unique individual you are, rather than an account number or a series of financial spreadsheets

  • Seeking professional advice on how to live well today while still having confidence in your plans for tomorrow

  • Overwhelmed with all of the decisions that you must make in your financial life in various areas such as investing, tax planning, repaying student loans, insurance, etc

  • A busy professional who has no time for (or interest in) learning everything about personal finance and would rather outsource to somebody who loves doing this stuff

  • Interested in working with an independent fee-only (a.k.a. “commission-free”) financial planner who always puts YOUR best interests first and doesn't sell financial products

  • Fun to work with! We can only serve a certain number of people, and life is too short to spend time with people who suck


We are probably not a good fit for you if you are:

  • Under the impression that financial planners have to be wealthy old guys in fancy suits, who work in expensive offices downtown with walls full of leather-bound books that smell of rich mahogany

  • Focused on trying to outperform the market by picking the next hot stock. We firmly believe in a low-cost passive indexing approach to investing, and that markets are mostly efficient. We also believe that a big part of our role as your financial advisor is to prevent you from making emotionally driven decisions or losing your long-term perspective

  • Seeking advice on complex estate planning issues to pass along your bazillion dollar estate to your heirs and favored charities in the most tax-efficient manner

  • Retired (or soon will be) and looking for advice on Social Security or generating retirement income from your portfolio. Retirees need financial planning advice too, but that’s just not who we serve best!

  • Trying to be the richest person in the graveyard some day, and focused on accumulating more stuff rather than creating experiences that contribute to your ideal life

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Comprehensive financial planning, get answers to all of your questions

The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them

Comprehensive financial planning, get answers to all of your questions

The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them


Let’s align your personal finances with your unique goals and values


The old way of financial planning: Gather copies of all of your financial statements, and fax or snail-mail them to your financial advisor. Tell them what age you would like to retire at. Some time later, receive a massive binder full of confusing charts and graphs that aren’t really explained to you. Buy some kind of expensive and overcomplicated financial product that even your advisor doesn’t really understand but supposedly solves all of your problems. Put the binder on a shelf in your home office and forget about it. Once a year, maybe have a brief meeting to review your portfolio while your advisor tries to sell you another expensive annuity or front-load mutual fund that you don’t need.

The Next Gen approach to financial planning: We believe that financial planning is an ongoing and collaborative process that starts with a discussion of your values and goals, and results in concrete action steps that we work on together to help you align your finances with a life you love.  Maybe your goals include starting a business, paying off your student loans, traveling around the world to watch the Olympics every four years, climbing the highest peak on all seven continents, buying a beach house, opening a charity to help homeless dogs find families, or something else entirely. We’ll help you figure out what it takes to get to where you want to be, even if it’s a bit off the beaten path.

No matter where you are in the United States, we can meet up with you through online video chat services such as Zoom or Skype. If you are in San Diego, you’ll also have the option of visiting our office. 

The purpose of going through the financial planning process is quite simple: to help you determine the best way to reach your goals. Simple, however, does not mean easy. We can help you get there, but you must first recognize that it will take some upfront work and a few honest, meaningful conversations.

Once you sign up, we’ll have several meetings during the first couple of months as we work together to create and implement your financial plan and get you on track. Here’s an overview of the steps that we’ll follow:


We start every client relationship by getting to know each other a lot better and identifying the values that are truly most important to you, because every financial recommendation we make in the future will be made through that lens. We’ll also organize all of your financial data such as investment accounts, insurance policies, employee benefits, expenses, and other important pieces. We’ll securely connect all of your online accounts with our client portal, because nobody wants to have to print out paper statements all the time. 


Based on what we discover about you and the data we have about your finances, we’ll work together to consider various options to help you achieve your stated goals. We’ll help you understand the advantages and drawbacks of each potential pathway, and crunch a lot of numbers to help you make an informed decision. The investments you select, the amount you’re able to save, insurance policies, cash flow management, tax considerations, and many other factors will go into our analysis. 


Once you are armed with all of the information you need to start making some choices, we’ll provide a list of specific prioritized action steps that need to happen to get you there and assist you along the way. For some important tasks, we’ll be able to directly help you. For others, we’ll refer you to trusted outside professionals such as attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, or realtors, and work closely with them on your behalf. We will help hold you accountable to making things happen!


The only thing that can be absolutely guaranteed about your financial plan is that it will not be 100% accurate over long time periods. Factors such as investment returns, tax rates, interest rates, and inflation are impossible to perfectly predict. Besides that, it is likely that you will undergo massive life changes that require updates to your financial plan from time to time. Your financial plan is not written in stone, and we don’t just throw it at you and abandon you! We will proactively monitor your investments, spending, and other variables through our advanced technology and check in with you from time to time to make needed adjustments as your life changes or as the economy shifts. Most clients will have about two review meetings per year after the initial plan is put together, though you may prefer to have more or fewer of them. As an ongoing client, you are always welcome to contact us with any financial question, no issue is too big or too small!



Here are a few more details about the types of issues we’ll cover while creating your financial plan:


Planning for the future

We’ll take a comprehensive, values-based approach to setting goals for your future and then put a plan in place to get you there. It’s not just about planning your finances, but helping to design your life.


For many young professionals, massive student loans feel like an enormous burden that they’ll never be able to get out from under. Planning for the best way to pay them off can be overwhelmingly confusing, but have a tremendous impact once done properly! We’ll look at your eligibility for special programs such as PSLF, PAYE, ICR, and others. You’ll then get a recommendation on how to best relieve this burden, which takes into account everything else we know about you and your financial plan. 

Cash flow & debt management

Managing credit cards, auto loans and other debt can be challenging, especially for those with variable income streams because of bonuses or commissions. We can help find ways to smooth things out, along with taking a look at other areas like credit scores and liquidity of your assets.


Our financial plans include an analysis of your potential needs for life insurance, income protection, health insurance, long-term care coverage, property and casualty insurance, or liability coverage. As a fee-only financial planning firm, we never directly sell insurance and we always make objective assessments to give recommendations that are in your best interest. 


This critically important area is overlooked far too often, especially by those who think that they aren’t wealthy enough to need it. We’ll help review beneficiary designations, assess the need for documents such as wills or trusts or powers of attorney, optimize asset titling, and address any other estate concerns.

Investment management

We can help construct an investment portfolio that is aligned with your needs, and then make adjustments for you as conditions change. Rather than chasing after abnormally high returns, our approach is designed instead to maximize the chances of you reaching your goals. Another thing that makes Next Gen Financial Planning unique is that we do not charge any additional fees for managing your portfolio (see next section for more details).


Evaluating your tax situation can uncover opportunities to optimize tax strategies and make sure that you aren’t unnecessarily overpaying each year. Our tax system is constantly evolving, and we’ll stay on top of it so that you don’t have to. We do not currently offer tax preparation services, but may do so in the future. We will work closely with whoever files your taxes to make sure that your tax planning objectives are put into action. 

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Fee-only financial planning without any product sales

No product sales, just the conflict-free financial advice that you need

Fee-only financial planning without any product sales

No product sales, just the conflict-free financial advice that you need


One simple, transparent fee for both financial planning and investment management

In recent years, there has been a growing trend in the business of financial advice to shift away from conflict-ridden commissions for the sale of financial products. Most of the industry, however, is still incentivized to push consumers towards expensive investment or insurance products regardless of whether or not it is actually in their best interest. This conflict of interest can create doubt in the client’s mind about whether a recommendation is being made because it is their best option or because the person advising them gets paid by getting them to follow the advice.

We will never give you a financial recommendation because we benefit from you following it!

Unlike some financial advisors who technically only have a fiduciary responsibility for certain parts of their relationship with you, we will ALWAYS act in your best interest. No financial advisor works for free, if you are not paying them then you should question who is and how they are incentivized. 

Some financial advisors follow a more objective model called being “fee-only”, where the client pays their advisor directly in order to remove such conflicts. Among that group, most charge fees on the basis of their account size. This is often referred to as an “Assets Under Management” (or “AUM”) model, and we believe this change to be a tremendous step in the right direction because brokers no longer have a financial incentive to churn client accounts or sell inappropriate products for high commissions.

The amount of this fee can vary from one company to another, but typically averages about 1% of the account per year for investment management services. A growing number of firms will also provide financial planning as part of that fee, another positive change. 

Why we don’t do AUM fees

Next Gen Financial Planning firmly believes that despite the growing popularity of the AUM model and its important advantages over commissions, it is still riddled with conflicts of interest while also preventing clients from receiving the enormous benefits of economies of scale that now exist. Moreover, it does not make sense that the value of a client’s portfolio should determine the fees paid for financial planning services.

AUM fees do not really incentivize financial advisors to grow accounts; they incentivize them to gather more assets. It does not cost a firm twice as much to manage a $2 million portfolio as it does to manage a $1 million dollar portfolio, and the service provided does not change much, so why should the client pay twice as much? If the market goes up 10% and you are invested in index funds that also go up 10%, do you think it is fair to pay your advisor 10% more even though he didn’t do any additional work?

If you ask your AUM-compensated advisor about whether or not you should spend some of the money in your investment account to pay off your mortgage or start a business, do you trust them to give you objective advice knowing that managing a smaller account would reduce their fees? Do you trust their recommendation to roll over your old 401(k) into an account that they manage, or to take the lump-sum option on your pension? What if they put you into investments that are higher risk than you would prefer, in order to grow your account size and their fees? 

There are many financial advisors out there who absolutely abide by their fiduciary oaths to always put the client first. Unfortunately, the temptation to increase revenue will always be enough to tempt some portion of them to put that aside, making AUM fees a flawed model.

Hourly fees

Another common approach among fee-only financial planners is to charge by the hour for their services, similarly to other professionals like attorneys or accountants. There are quite a few advantages to this model, including that the fee paid is directly correlated with the actual amount of work done. However, we believe hourly fees to be more appropriate for projects with a limited scope and duration. 

At Next Gen Financial Planning, we want to create long-term relationships with clients and serve them over the long haul. We do on occasion complete limited projects for clients at an hourly rate of $200, but don’t see this model as being ideal for continuous service implementing the recommended steps in your financial plan and making updates as things change. And any time you have a financial question pop up, you would always wonder whether getting an answer to it is really worth $200 for an hour of our time. 

In addition, you might wonder if the number of hours you were billed for actually equals the number of hours worked on your behalf. We want our clients to always feel comfortable contacting us for help; no question is too big or too small!

A better way

In order to prevent these types of inherent conflicts and to make things easier for clients to understand, we use a simple flat subscription model that includes both financial planning and investment management services. For most new clients our current fee is $3,000 per year, split up into equal monthly installments in order to make payment easier. The amount of this fee may be adjusted up or down depending on the complexity of your financial situation and how much work we expect to be doing for you. For new clients, there may be an additional fee of approximately 1/4 of the annual fee paid upfront to account for the large amount of work required to onboard them and create the initial version of their financial plan. This fee includes both financial planning and investment management services, there are no additional costs.

The services we provide are not substantially different between clients with larger or smaller portfolios, so our fee structure reflects this. This fee amount is based on our costs and what we believe to be reasonable compensation for the value that we provide to clients. You might even already be paying much more than that right now through hidden fees, and not even realize it. 

If your financial situation turns out to be substantially simpler or more complicated than most of our clients, then we may adjust the fee accordingly. You can choose to pay this fee with automated deductions from either your checking account or investment account. If you don’t think that you are getting enough value from working with us to justify the fees paid, then you are free to leave at any time. Transparency is vitally important to us, clients should know exactly how much they are paying for our advice and exactly what they are getting for that payment.

We believe that this approach reduces conflicts of interest to the maximum extent possible, more fairly ties the value that we provide to the fee that we charge, aligns our interests with that of our clients, and allows clients to take advantage of the cost savings from the powerful economies of scale that now exist thanks to modern investment management technology.

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About Next Gen Financial Planning


About Next Gen Financial Planning


A message from our founder, Steven Fox

Hi, I’m Steven Fox and I’m the founder of Next Gen Financial Planning, a fee-only financial planning firm dedicated to helping young professionals make better decisions with money.

I decided to start NGFP because as I began my career in financial planning, I noticed that there is an enormous gap in the availability of personal financial planning services. 

Most financial advisors have high investable asset minimums (often times $1 million or more) that many people, particularly young families, are simply unable to meet. Additionally, their service models are often tailored to the needs of retirees in their 60’s and 70’s rather than meeting the unique needs of those in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. 

Imagine that doctors only worked with people who were already in perfect health, and positioned themselves as providing a service to maintain your health and improve upon it. Wouldn’t that be completely absurd?!? That’s exactly what most of the financial planning industry does when focusing solely on providing for clients who are already wealthy.

Moreover, there’s a common (but completely inaccurate) perception in the industry that young adults simply don’t need financial planning services because their financial situations aren’t complex enough. I couldn’t disagree more!

I don’t have to look very far to find an example of just how untrue it is that young people don’t have complicated financial issues to figure out. Here are a few examples of events that occurred just during my twenties that impacted my finances:

  • I started, bought, and sold a few small businesses

  • I bought two houses, one as a rental and one to live in (in different states)

  • I was married, divorced, then later married again

  • While serving as an active duty Marine, I moved around the country and around the world multiple times

  • I received a large re-enlistment bonus from the Marine Corps and had to decide what to do with it

  • I incurred tens of thousands of dollars in debt and then paid it off

  • I selected and purchased multiple types of insurance policies

  • I dealt with the separate deaths of both of my parents and some of the financial issues that can arise in such situations

  • I attended a university and earned my degree

  • I bought 2 cars and 3 motorcycles

  • I started investing for the future

  • My wife became pregnant with our first child

Do you think that the younger me might have benefitted from professional financial advice when these events occurred? Absolutely! In fact, I would argue that people in their 20’s-40’s have far more tumultuous lives and need financial advice even more than typical retirees do. 

Unfortunately, most young people are not able to find trustworthy professional financial advisors to work with. Many of them are forced to either seek out answers to complex financial issues on their own, or rely on the opinions of brokers selling investments or insurance products on commission who may not have their best interest at heart

Even among those advisors who don’t work on commission, they often have minimum accounts sizes that are far out of reach for most people who are just starting out. At Next Gen Financial Planning, we do not have a minimum account size.

These experiences have taught me that the decision to seek out financial advice should not be dictated by how much money you have, but by your desire and motivation to understand your financial life and position yourself to reach your fullest potential. Professional, objective, and caring advice can help you to define and achieve your goals. 


Here are a few of the core beliefs that I adhere to while serving clients:

  • Everyone can benefit from working with a well-trained and competent financial advisor, not just those who are already wealthy.

  • Real financial planning starts with your personal values and life goals. You deserve to be treated like the living, breathing, thinking, and feeling individual that you are, not as a spreadsheet with a series of financial formulas for your advisor to solve.

  • Providing financial planning services on a fee-only basis (meaning that no commissions are collected for any financial products recommended) removes conflicts of interest and results in more objective advice.

  • Every client deserves qualified, proficient advice and guidance. I have a duty to learn as much as I can about every area of financial planning in order to give the best possible advice. If I don’t know the answer to a question, I’ll find it. When subject matter experts are required to solve a unique problem, I’ll refer out to them.

  • If I do everything in my power to provide clients with excellent service, then they’ll stick around for a long time and we both win.

Putting these principles into action is our mission for each and every client.
— Steven Fox

Steven Fox - Founder, Next Gen Financial Planning

Steven Fox - Founder, Next Gen Financial Planning

Steven Fox, founder and financial planner

Steven Fox, CFP®, EA is the founder of Next Gen Financial Planning, a Registered Investment Advisor in the state of California providing comprehensive fee-only financial planning services for young professionals who want to learn how to use money as a tool to balance today’s pressing needs with tomorrow’s dreams. Steven is also the founder of the San Diego Financial Advisors Network, a member of both the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors and the XY Planning Network, and currently serves as the 2019 President for the San Diego chapter of the Financial Planning Association. Pro-bono efforts to give back include serving as Treasurer and Volunteer Coordinator for the non-profit Financial Independence Training, which provides financial education and individual counseling to active-duty military members. 

Steven is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, and an Enrolled Agent.

Prior to starting Next Gen Financial Planning, Steven served over 8 years on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. After separating with an honorable discharge, he attended San Diego State University where he graduated with honors while earning a bachelors degree in financial services, a certificate in personal financial planning, and a minor in entrepreneurship. He has also held positions with several other financial planning firms. 

Mike Farrow - Financial Planner

Mike Farrow - Financial Planner

Mike Farrow, financial planner

 I have some very fond memories of my father teaching me about money and investing at a very young age.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, my first lesson was about the power of compound interest. Each month my father and I would sit down and calculate the interest that the money I had meticulously saved, and not spent, had accrued. It was exciting to watch my money grow, and it gave me great comfort to know what I put safely away today will be worth even more tomorrow.  Albert Einstein said “compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe”. I agree, it has the power to make fortunes, but it also has the power to force servitude. It’s within our power to choose which, and I want to help people choose wisely.

One of the ways I really like to “nerd out” is in studying behavioral economics. Behavioral economics is the study of how people make decisions, more specifically around money. One might think we are always rational around money, that one must simply decide to keep more than they spend. But there are strong biological and psychological forces at work telling us to do all the wrong things at all the wrong times. It’s these times when it can be extremely valuable to have a financial coach watching out for you.

A question I often ask my clients is “what does money mean to you?” Well I feel it’s time I answered that question myself. Money to me simply means choice. Whether it be the choice to make a career change, purchase a home, retire when I’m ready, cover costs in an emergency, or to take an impromptu vacation when needed. Money puts choice in our hands. I became a financial planner to help people build up choices in their lives so they can do all the things in life they really love.

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Next Gen Financial Planning Blog

From the blog

Stories about personal finance to educate, entertain, and inspire

Next Gen Financial Planning Blog

From the blog

Stories about personal finance to educate, entertain, and inspire

The latest insights on personal finance