Mark Zoril — Plymouth, Minnesota

Mark Zoril, of PlanVision. Index Fund Financial Advisor For Expatriate Americans. No Minimum Account Size Requirement

 

  1. Please tell us a little about yourself professionally, including your qualifications.

I am the founder of PlanVision. I have 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. In 2012, after too many years, I decided that small businesses and middle class people could be served in a better way than I was able to in my prior arrangement.   I am an Accredited Investment Fiduciary and have been responsible for enrolling thousands of people in employer based retirement plans over the years. I have also helped many smaller employers set-up and run their retirement plans. As an integral part of my work, I have provided financial and retirement plans to hundreds of my clients.

 

  1. Please tell us something about you, as a person.

I very much enjoy my work. Over the years, I have been very influenced by my clients who continue to work well into their 70’s and even their 80’s. As such, my goal is to work as long as I can provide competent guidance and advisement as my health will allow.   I realize this is not the plan for most people, but I would like to stay engaged in my work as long as possible.

In addition, I am a huge advocate of foster care. We adopted our second daughter through Hennepin County in Minnesota. It was a great experience and I am very fortunate that we decided to go through this process to expand our Family. I have been very affected by the plight of many children that are abused or neglected or both and promote foster care as a legitimate way for people to grow their families. We are better off for this experience.

 

  1. Could you give us an introduction to your firm?

PlanVision is an RIA that provides guidance to smaller employers and individuals. We recommend index funds from Vanguard to our clients. We do not accept or support any forms of compensation such as commissions, revenue sharing, referral fees, or soft money (marketing dollars). We charge our clients flat fees. We believe that, in general, people massively overpay for investment and insurance products as well as financial guidance and consultations.

It is our intention to simplify the investment process for our clients. All of our guidance is provided personally (one on one) to our clients. We use technology effectively to support our low cost approach. We integrate Survey Gizmo with our CRM, Salesforce. Also, we conduct most of our client meetings through video conferencing using Zoom or Skype. In addition, for financial planning we use Finance Logix technology.

We do not using any hype, sales tactics, or ploys in engaging our clients. We do not promote using any type of forecasting tools at all, nor do we make any forecasts for our clients. We provide honest assessments of what people might be able to accomplish and explain what their risks are.

 

  1. What is the minimum account size requirement you have, in order for a person to become a client?

Nothing. Zero. Zip. $0. (I suppose we could say $96 because that is what we charge). We are happy to provide guidance, ideas, education, planning to anyone who is interested in working with PlanVision. Our model is not based upon asset size so that is not how we promote our services. We charge a flat fee. People should consider it to be a lot like a health club. You pay membership dues of $8/month and you get access to your own personal financial adviser who provides guidance to you based upon your situation. We have realized that most people, once you get them up and running and educated about what they are doing, like receiving ongoing support. However, for most regular people, their situations are normally not so complicated that they require much time and resources – maybe 1 to 2 hours a year of questions and review. So they shouldn’t have to pay a significant amount for this ongoing guidance and $96 is a great price point for most people and a profitable price for our firm.

 

  1. Why do you only build portfolios of low cost index funds or ETFs for your clients?

It has become obvious to us, after 20 years in the business, that index funds provide investors the highest probabability of better relative returns. Since they eliminate the risk of making incorrect investment selections and are so much less expensive, they are better positioned to provide better returns over the long run than more expensive actively management funds. Volumes of data reveal that index funds outperform most actively managed funds.

In addition, the whole idea of financial service firms and advisers tracking and monitoring the performance of funds adds an additional layer of management and fees. Therefore, using index funds reduces that additional cost as well.

After so many years in the industry we have realized that much of the promotion of investing products, and ideas, is simply marketing instead of sound investing. Most financial services firms and advisors promote complexity to add value in their services. But using index funds simplifies the approach and goals for the investor, which in turn reduces their cost and increases their understanding.

Anecdotally, I happen to have four friends who are professional fund managers. Three at hedge funds and one for a small cap publicly available fund.   They have all divulged to me that they use index funds for their personal investments!

 

  1. Could you give us an idea of the kind of services you offer, as well as your charges? If they differ, based on circumstances, could you give us a few examples?

We charge $96 for 12 months of support to our clients. That’s it! We do not accept commissions or AUM charges or referral fees. (We actually offer a money back guarantee of our $96 if the client is not satisfied with our initial plan or investment recommendations). All of our guidance is provided personally with our clients through video conference sessions and phone work. We use Zoom meetings and Skype for our sessions. We prefer to work with the “common man or woman” instead of high net worth individuals. Our guidance involves full financial and retirement planning (using Finance Logix), investment recommendations, help with budgeting, reviewing cash flow and making suggestions, and reviewing and discussing insurance options. We also help all of our clients implement whatever strategies make sense for them, such as opening new accounts.

 

  1. Could you give us your contact details and your firm’s website?

 

mark-zoril

 

 







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andrew hallam

andrew hallam

I’m a financial columnist for Canada’s national paper, The Globe and Mail, as well as for AssetBuilder, a financial service firm based in Texas. I’m also the author of Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School (Wiley 2011) and The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing: From Millionaire Teacher to Millionaire Expat (Wiley 2015). My mission is to educate, motivate and inspire people on basic retirement planning and best practices for investing, using evidence-based strategies. I'm happy to comment on your questions. However, please read the Terms of Use.

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37 Responses

  1. Laurie says:

    We wanted to share our experience with PlanVision. We read Millionaire Teacher and found it very educational – thanks Andrew! We then reached out to Mark Zoril of PlanVision from this website. Mark helped us transfer our funds from a very expensive managed program to low-cost index funds with our employer’s plan (the TSP) and Vanguard for our Roth IRAs. He made recommendations on investment options based upon our situation. We will save thousands of dollars every year in fees. Also, Mark provided a retirement analysis for us, which let us know the outlook of our financial future. He provided all of this support by telephone and video conferencing. It cost us only $96 and includes a full 12-months of support and guidance! It is money well spent and we were very pleased to have found this referral to PlanVision from your site. Thank you!

  2. Mark Zoril says:

    Thanks for the nice words. Laurie and her husband were great to work with! They have been wonderful savers and have a nice future ahead. Reading Millionaire Teacher helped them understand that investing does not have to be complicated. They will save an amazing amount of money on their investments and it was a lot of fun to help them get in to much lower cost funds.

  3. Michael Wald says:

    I also wanted to share my experience with Mark and Plan Vision. Mark helped my company, Spikeball inc., onboard to Plan Vision for our 401k plans. Mark has been helpful in not only educating me about specific financial products like IRAs, Robo-Advisers, and 401ks, but also in educating me about my specific financial situation through 1-on-1 phone calls. He was able to clearly outline my options, talk about risk-tolerance, and discuss with me how he would think about each of the “buckets” that I’ve chosen to put my money. It has been a smooth and easy transition into working with Plan Vision and building a new 401k, and that is in large part due to Mark.

  4. Katherine says:

    Hi Andrew. Thank you so much for the book The Millionaire Teacher. What an eye opener. I just want to post something here about my experience so far with Mark at Plan Vision. I teach internationally and have always had my retirement in managed mutual funds. Mark has been tremendously helpful in trying to organize the transfer of my accounts. We work through video conferencing and his insight and assistance has been very helpful in simplifying my investments and getting them in low-cost index funds with Vanguard. The $96 charge for a year’s worth of financial advise is a great value!

    • Glad to hear it Katherine. Do you know what platform Mark is using? Is he using Schwab? Please let him know that if he does, and Schwab initiates some overseas restrictions (they are adding some countries to their “must close their account list” then Mark could use Interactive Brokers. They are far less choosy. Great stuff Katherine!

      • Mark Zoril says:

        For virtually all of my expat clients we use Interactive Brokers. I help my clients set up their accounts and transfer funds there and purchase the ETF’s. While it is a powerful trading platform with lots of bells and whistles, it can work just fine once an investor gets up and running. And it is very inexpensive. For my clients with US residency, I prefer just using Vanguard’s brokerage platform.

  5. Mark Zoril says:

    Hi Andrew – and Katherine. Katherine has been a lot of fun to work with so far. Andrew, I don’t “use” a platform in the conventional way many advisers use platforms. I simply help people set-up accounts directly and then monitor it with them going forward. I am familiar with what has been going on with Schwab. Also, I have explored IB and am aware that IB is an option for some that may not be able to find a platform. Take care!

  6. David Harris says:

    I have my investment portfolio with Schwab International in Hong Kong (from when I was working in Shanghai). I have not heard anything about Schwab setting up restrictions that you mention. Is there a link to information about this. (PS – I just opened a TD account in Luxembourg as a Cdn $ account but still like Schwab’s trading fees better).

  7. Rich Cowles says:

    I began working with Mark and PlanVision as an individual after working with him through my employer. Mark helped simplify my investments and ease my transition to retirement. Mark’s been a pleasure to work with–he’s a genuine person of high principles and integrity who enjoys helping people understand the jargon-filled world of investments, free themselves of hidden costs and take control of their finances.

    As a result of working with Mark, i do feel in control of my financial future, with the added assurance of ongoing support from an expert I trust and enjoy working with.

  8. Rolfe Hanson says:

    Mark Zoril of PlanVision has finally helped me get clarity on investing and my portfolio. After years of working with big companies who didn’t have the time or the ability to guide me through the process, Mark has – in sessions by phone and video conference – given me a knowledge base, tools, and smart, basic info I can understand to be more successful with my investments.

    I’m a salesperson and recognize the distinction between being sold on and being educated about products. Mark Zoril’s approach is all about guidance and education in learning about our investments and the why, where, and how one might go about it. Can’t thank him enough for his help.

  9. Gary Lloyd says:

    I have been working with Mark for the past year and just renewed for another year. Mark gives a tremendous amount of insight and support, and you will not find advice like this at a cheaper price. It is so helpful to have a hands on approach for managing my money and I would recommend his services to anyone. Even if you feel like you have your accounts in order, it NEVER hurts to have another professional eye on your money to guide your financial decisions. Thank you Mark!

  10. Jason Van Schooneveld says:

    I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mark for the past year and his advice and services have gone above and beyond what I expected for such a low fee. He is responsive and professional in all his communications. My wife and I live and work overseas and were finding it harder and harder to invest with US-based brokerage firms. One after another slammed the door on us once they found out we lived overseas. We were getting really discouraged and that is when I found Andrew’s book and in turn found Mark, and we couldn’t be happier. Mark understands the rapidly-changing investment landscape that American expatriates face and is there to help you successfully navigate it. He got us set up with Interactive Brokers and has been there every step of the way to answer any questions we’ve had. I look forward to many more years of working with Mark!

  11. Caroline says:

    It was great working with Mark to set up an account through Interactive Brokers. He is always very responsive and helpful. Mark made it very easy for me to get started and the fact that I live overseas was never made an issue. Thanks Mark!

  12. Nawaz Anwarudeen says:

    Hi Andrew – Per your recommendation, I worked with Mark Zoril and successfully moved my retirement assets to index funds. Did the same for my wife’s assets and college savings plans for my kids. I used simple portfolio that you recommend in your books. Thanks.

    I live in Singapore. The time difference between Singapore and US central time is 13 hours. Mark was very accommodating and scheduled time out of office hours to work with me. He uses state of the art tools to communicate (Zoom for video). He was always professional.

    It was very refreshing to work with someone who is not selling products or services all the time.

    Thank you for recommending Mark.
    Cheers,
    Nawaz

    • Thanks Nawaz,

      This is great to hear!

      Cheers,
      Andrew

      • Mark Zoril says:

        Nawaz was a lot of fun and great to work with! He was really on top of things. The people like Nawaz that you are helping to learn how to reduce their investments costs by using simple, low-cost index or ETF portfolios will save tens of thousands (and in some cases hundreds of thousands) of dollars throughout their lifetime.

  13. Rachel Zammuto says:

    After reading about him here, I contacted Mark to help me with the process of reinvesting my money into index funds. It felt big and confusing to do on my own, but Mark has a clear and direct way of explaining things. He works to inform his clients so that they can make financial moves for themselves. It was refreshing to not feel like there was a hidden agenda as I’ve felt with previous advisors I’ve worked with.

    Mark has been easy to communicate with (despite a 13 hour time difference), and willing to work with me as much as I need to get my new investments up and running. I feel the $96 for a year is a good price for the advising service and I look forward to continuing to work and learn with Mark. Thanks for helping connect people through your blog, Andrew!

  14. Ashley says:

    After leaving my international school in Thailand and moving to a new one in Hong Kong, I had to decide what to do with my Provident Fund from my former school. I too began working with Mark after reading about him here on this site (to be honest, I was drawn to him because he’s from Minnesota – people there are so nice). I am very thankful for the insight that Andrew’s books and working with Mark have provided me in actively investing in my future. Mark patiently guided me through setting up an account with Interactive Brokers. He advises in a way where I felt a balance between being in control and knowledgeable about where my money was going, while also being safely guided to make thoughtful investments. His hours were flexible for my international life and he was a pleasure to work with. Thank you both for the work that you do!

  15. Jeffrey Kanemoto says:

    I’m a US expat residing in Tokyo and I began working with Mark this past May. After understanding my situation, Mark created a useful retirement projection for me using the Finance Logix program. He also helped me set up an account with Interactive Brokers and guided me through the purchase of my desired ETF. Despite the significant time difference, Mark always responds promptly to my e-mails with helpful advice and is accommodating when arranging video meetings. I highly recommend Mark to other expats looking for a very professional yet inexpensive financial advisor.

  16. David Harris says:

    Hi, Mark, this is perhaps a new Thread. I was just re-reading some advice from Garth Turner stating that one should ALWAYS take your CPP at 60. I am 61 now and when I went looking, I see there are new rules which reduce your payout more than previously. Do you have experience in this realm? If this is advice is fee-based and you think your advice is worth it 🙂 then I can certainly consider paying. Thanks.

    • Mark Zoril says:

      Hi David. While I work with most of my US clients in helping them evaluate their timing of receiving their Social Security as part of my guidance, I have no experience with helping Canadians make decisions on their CPP. If it is simply a matter of evaluating the pros and cons of waiting, I might be able to assist on that. To have a preliminary conversation on this, you would need to contact me separately if you would like to discuss this. You’re welcome to do that at markzoril(@)planvisionmn.com. Otherwise, best of luck to you.

      Cheers

  17. Kendra Kuti says:

    My husband and I currently live in Oman and read the Millionaire Teacher book last school year. After looking at all of our options, we chose to use PlanVision and work with Mark Zoril. We have been amazed at his expertise and promptness in responding to our questions. He is able to lay out complicated financial topics into simpler terms and has allowed us to think about our finances both short and long term. We feel like the $96 yearly fee is such a great value for the expertise Mark provides! As a result of our experience, a few other teachers at out school have started to use Mark/PlanVision as well! Thank you Andrew for letting us know there are “other options” out there for financial planning and thank you Mark for such a positive experience!

    • Mark Zoril says:

      Thanks Kendra. It has been to work with you and Brian and help you get a much simpler and low-cost portfolio up and running!

  18. Holly Elwell says:

    I have been working with Mark for the past month. This is a great bargain and I am so relieved to finally have a place open to expats in which to invest my money. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without Mark’s help. This is well worth the price and he will walk you through every step. Thanks, Andrew for including the contact info for Mark Zoril!

  19. Michael Mansell says:

    After having read both of Andrew’s books my wife and I decided to start the process of withdrawing our investments from brokerages like Friends Provident, Hansard and Edward Jones in the U.S.. Friends Provident and Hansard were the most difficult. Edward Jones it turns out had been giving my wife bad advice. They had been advising her invest in a ROTH for the past 12 yrs even though she was not eligible. The issue is now in the hands of the IRS. She stands to lose all gains made over the 12yrs and could possibly end up paying 12,000 in penalties. Thanks Edward Jones.
    Having seen Mark Zoril recommended on Andrew’s site we decided to contact him about advising us. Mark has been great. He’s answered all our questions, given us sound advice and been very accommodating regarding when to meet with us online. We live in Africa so meeting with us requires him to be awake in the wee hours of the morning. He is worth way more than the $96 annual fee.
    If you’re looking for an adviser to help you invest in low fee ETF as described in Andrew’s books, I would highly recommend Mark Zoril.

  20. Rick says:

    I have been a client of Mark’s for about the last six months and it has been well worth the $96/year that he charges. He helped me set up an investment account and has also assisted me with the mechanics of investing. I appreciate his simple, unbureaucratic approach.

    If he didn’t have an immediate answer to one of my questions, Mark has always proactively offered to research it for me and has quickly gotten back to me with the info I need. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with Mark!

  21. Gerrick Monroe says:

    I have been working with Mark for the past two months, and he has been very helpful and supportive in my efforts to combine all of my retirement accounts into one common platform. Once I had completed the steps needed to pull all of my retirement funds together, Mark worked with me to complete a detailed financial/retirement plan for my wife and me. He walked through this detailed report and reviewed a variety of scenarios and the impact that each might have on our retirement savings and plans.

    I had already been a convert to low cost index funds in saving for retirement, but I was in great need of an expert to bounce ideas off of and to review my plans and adjust them as necessary. Mark has provided me with this type of assistance, and his commitment to explaining not only the best path forward but also the rationale behind it has been very helpful to me and my family.

    Mark’s annual fee of $96 is a remarkable value. His service and commitment to my retirement plan has far exceeded my expectations. I whole-heartedly recommend Mark and his firm to assist with establishing a financial plan that is simple to understand and implement. His professionalism and knowledge is very impressive, and I look forward to working with him for years to come.

    • Mark Zoril says:

      Gerrick has been great to work with. Very organized and responsive and on top of his financial situation. It has been great to help him clean up his accounts and take a look at how his future might unfold financially!

  22. David says:

    I recommend Mark’s services unequivocally. I’m an American expatriate teaching in the international school world, and Mark was recommended to me by Andrew Hallam, who gave a talk at my school. I was looking for someone who (for a reasonable cost) could offer me and my wife financial advice and guide us through the process of starting a diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds. I’ve been extremely happy with Mark’s service and advice so far. His annual rate of $96 is a total bargain; since first making contact with him a month or two ago, we’ve already spent a number of hours discussing my situation and getting my investments set up. I’ve found his advice to be objective, honest and completely reasonable. Everything has gone smoothly so far; our investment account is set up, and it’s great to know that Mark is available to continue to offer us advice and help us to properly diversify our investments in the future. An additional thing to point out is that he’s a very timely and efficient communicator. He has always gotten back to me within a day or so, and when my wife and I were ready to make a move, Mark and I were able to set up an appointment to get the ball rolling within a few days. He has been totally excellent to work with. A+

  23. Jim says:

    My wife and I have been investing for our future for many years. Previously we had used a commission based advisory firm. Each time we met with a representative in the old model they tried to sell us something and the fees were brushed over. We live and work in Minnesota and began working with Mark at PlanVision about 3 years ago. It was refreshing to pay a straightforward, reasonable fee for guidance and not be sold any investment products. During this process, we learned more about low-cost investment options and how to compare them to the fees we were paying for the investments we were using. We were able to move many of our accounts to much lower cost Vanguard index funds with Mark’s help.

    Just this last Summer, my wife and I did a full retirement plan projection with Mark that was a part of the $96 annual charge. Mark offers the option of utilizing technology to meet with him which works better with our busy family schedule. Our meeting with Mark provided us a very good sense of how we stand for the future – and there were no product sales during the review.

    My wife and I feel better informed and we strongly recommend Mark and PlanVison with their straight forward approach to investing. Jim & Renee.

  24. Kate says:

    I have been working with Mark at PlanVision for three months now, and I am very happy with his service. I read Millionaire Teacher because a teacher friend recommended it based on knowing Andrew. I found it to be the clear and straightforward advice I needed to stop procrastinating and start preparing for the future. I contacted Mark based on Andrew’s recommendation, and signed up for his $96 plan. I am using Interactive Brokers based on his advice. I am impressed with how much communication with Mark I get, his advice is clear and easy to follow, and no question was too simple or too basic (I’m really starting from the beginning). I am getting a great value for my $96 and I will renew for next year. I can highly recommend Mark and PlanVision.

  25. Betty says:

    I have worked with Mark for several years. He has been a great resource for my husband and I-we are now retiring. He has helped us review our investments, Social Security and Medicare questions and also has done a projection for our retirement as well. It is great to have access to a professional resource for $96.00 and it is also good that Mark does not try and sell us investment products and schemes when we contact him.

  26. Tom says:

    I have known Mark Zoril of Plan Vision for many years and working with him three years ago for $96.a year. I am closing in on retirement and Mark has helped me review how I stand financially for these upcoming years.
    He is always quickly available for a call if I have a question. He has provided guidance on different investment options for my situation. For example Mark helped me review the pros and cons of taking my pension on a monthly basis from the plan or withdrawing it and transferring it to an IRA. His objective advice was important in helping me go through this process as opposed to another firm that clearly wanted to “manage” the money for a hefty annual fee.
    it is great to have a professional sounding board whose income or compensation is not tied to what I end up doing with money and how I invest. I know that when I contact Mark I won”t be sold on any investment ideas or fads.

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