Meet the trueNorth Team

Karen O’Brien CPA, CFP®

Principal

Karen co-founded trueNorth Wealth Advisors in 2001 after a twenty-year career in public and corporate accounting.  She is a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner as well as a Certified Public Accountant.  Karen developed trueNorth’s comprehensive financial planning process and is an active participant in client financial planning team strategy meetings.  In her role as Managing Partner and Principal, Karen focuses on practice management and trueNorth’s long-term vision.  

Joe Hebert CFP®

Principal

Joe co-founded trueNorth with Karen O’Brien and focuses on financial planning strategies and portfolio management. Joe’s initial career as an electrical engineer provides him with a solution-focused approach to financial planning and investment management.  Joe has the ability to breakdown complex financial concepts into easily understood and actionable solutions.  In his role as Principal, Joe is committed delivering strategic value to our clients and mentoring the next generation of trueNorth planners.

 

Brooke Trinh PhD, CFP®

Financial Planner, Partner

After deciding to change careers from molecular biology to finance, Brooke joined trueNorth in 2013 as a Client Service Manager. As she transitioned into financial planning, she earned her CFP designation and became a partner in 2019.  Brooke focuses on developing financial life plans that help clients live their lives with clarity and intention. As a partner, Brooke also supports various operational functions.

Kathi McMahon M.S., CFP®

Financial Planner

Kathi joined trueNorth in 2018 after earning her Masters in Family Financial Planning. Kathi works with clients at all stages of life with a focus on providing practical financial plans anchored by each individual’s personal and financial priorities.  Her previous experience as a USA Cycling Coach provides perspective as she helps guide clients toward their life goals. In addition to providing financial planning, Kathi assists with the management of client portfolios.

Charlotte Appleford

Client Service Associate

Charlotte joined trueNorth in 2019 as a Client Service Associate and is committed to providing exceptional client service. She manages the ongoing client communications and support.  Her previous experience as a manager of a local restaurant helped hone the organizational skills that she brings in providing administrative support for financial planning and investment management services.  


CFP® Certification Requirements

When you engage the services of trueNorth Wealth Advisors, you have secured a team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNING™ professionals to help you. The CFP® certification is the most trusted designation in the financial planning profession.  

The “4 Es” of the CFP® certification equips each candidate the ability to provide comprehensive advice. 

The Education Requirement

The two-part education requirement includes both (1) completing coursework on financial planning through a CFP Board Registered Program, and (2) holding a bachelor’s degree or higher (in any discipline) from an accredited college or university.  The candidate must complete the coursework before they can take the CFP® exam.

The Exam Requirement 

Passing the CFP® exam demonstrates that a candidate has attained the knowledge and competency necessary to provide comprehensive personal financial planning advice.  The CFP® exam is a 170-question, multiple-choice test that consists of two 3-hour sessions over one day.  The exam is includes stand-alone and scenario-based questions, as well as questions associated with case studies.

The Experience Requirement

The experience requires the candidate to complete either 6,000 hours of professional experience related to the financial planning process, or 4,000 hours of apprenticeship experience that meets additional requirements.

The Ethics Requirement

The ethics requirement indicates the candidate has agreed to adhere to a high ethical and professional standard for the practice of financial planning, and to act as a fiduciary when providing financial advice to each client, always putting their best interests first.


Why trueNorth?

We’re a good fit if you’re serious about developing a financial plan that identifies what is truly important to you and want actionable steps to help you achieve your goals.  We’re also a good fit if you want professional management of a globally diversified, low-cost investment portfolio that supports your personal goals whether you’re accumulating assets for retirement or you’re ready to convert your nest egg into a retirement paycheck.

  • We are a fee-only firm, that’s fundamental.  We don’t think it makes sense for you to trust your financial decisions with an advisor who is subject to the conflicts of interest that commissions or referral fees can generate.
  • We have developed a financial planning process that is collaborative, detailed, and systematic.  If you come to us feeling uncertainty about your financial future, by the time we have worked together through the financial planning process, you’ll have a better understanding of exactly what needs to be done and just as importantly—why.
  • As investment advisors, our portfolio management process is as disciplined as our planning process, and provides the same benefits: peace of mind, clarity in the face of uncertainty, and a strategy designed specifically for you and your life goals—your personal trueNorth.

As a team of fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ professionals, we are strongly positioned to deliver the benefits of a team approach as well as the objectivity of an independent advisor-owned firm.

Fiduciary Oath

trueNorth shall exercise its best efforts to act in good faith 

and in the best interests of the client.

trueNorth shall provide written disclosure to the client prior to the engagement, and thereafter throughout the term of the engagement, of any conflicts of interest, which will or reasonably may compromise our impartiality or independence.

trueNorth, or any party in which trueNorth has a financial interest, does not receive any compensation or other remuneration that is contingent on any client's purchase or sale of a financial product. We do not receive a fee 

or other compensation from another party based on the referral 

of a client or the client's business. 

 

Karen O’Brien, CPA, CFP®    Joe Hebert, CFP®

Brooke Trinh, PhD, CFP®    Kathi McMahon, M.S., CFP®

FAQ

  • How do you work with clients?

    We provide ongoing financial life planning and portfolio management with our Wealth Advisory Services

    In year one we create your initial financial plan and construct a portfolio to support your plan and life goals.  We provide assistance with plan implementation and manage any portfolio distribution needs.

    In year two and beyond we update planning areas and track goal progress.  Your portfolio is reviewed for rebalancing and efficient tax management.

  • What is Financial Life Planning?

    Financial life planning is a holistic process that focuses on increasing your sense of financial well-being and life satisfaction.  It is a process where we broaden our conversations from asset management to life management.  

  • What is your approach to investing?

    We begin by constructing an asset allocation target that is specific to your risk tolerance, objectives and investment time horizon.  Our portfolios are primarily composed of passively managed mutual funds to provide the long-term benefits of diversification while keeping expenses low.

    We utilize broadly diversified, low-cost, no-load mutual funds, and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), for the equity (stock) positions of your portfolio.   We use cash, bond funds, and bond ETFs, for the fixed income positions. When appropriate, we also utilize diversifiers such as REITs, natural resources, and commodity funds.

  • How often would we meet?

    In year one, the initial financial plan and portfolio construction is generally completed with 4 or 5 meetings.  In year two and beyond, ongoing maintenance is generally completed with 2 scheduled meetings—a financial planning meeting and a portfolio review meeting. In addition, we are always available for life’s financial questions that come up between regularly scheduled meetings.

    If preferred or applicable, all meetings can be held virtually.

  • What is the fee for Wealth Advisory Services?

    Our standard annual fee is calculated on the market value of your Assets Under Management (AUM) based on the following schedule:

    Managed Assets (AUM)

    Annual Fee*

    From $ 0 to $1,000,000

    1.0%  of Portfolio Value

    Over $1,000,000

    $10,000 + 0.5% of Portfolio Value over $1,000,000

     

     *  $10,000 Annual Fee Minimum
    For example, the annual fee for $1,500,000 in AUM will be $12,500 ($3,125 per quarter) or 0.83% of your AUM. Our fee is based on the AUM balance at the start of the quarter; initial fees for partial quarters are prorated. Wealth Advisory Service fees are billed quarterly in advance and are non-negotiable.

  • What is the difference between Fee-Only versus Fee-Based compensation?

    Fee-only means the fees that we receive for financial planning and portfolio management come directly from our clients. We do not sell any insurance or investment products and do not receive any commissions or accept any referral fees. With respect to you, the client, the Fee-Only financial advisor wears a single hat, that of the trusted advisor without the motivation or incentive of selling any other products. 

    A Fee-Based advisor may receive fees from clients for financial planning or investment management as well as commissions from the sale of insurance or investment products.

  • What is a Fiduciary?

    A fiduciary is a professional who is obligated to put clients’ interests ahead of their own. For a financial advisor, abiding by a fiduciary standard means offering financial advice based on what’s best for the client.

  • What is a Registered Investment Advisor?

    An investment advisor is a fiduciary that puts the client’s interest first and deals fairly and honestly with them. A Registered Investment Advisor is a financial planning firm that is registered with either the state or the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).  Firms who manage or have discretionary authority over client’s funds in excess of $100,000,000 are subject to registration with the SEC.