Frequently asked questions

GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT TRUE LINK AND OUR SERVICES

True Link is a diversified financial services firm offering a range of money management, investment, and insurance products, primarily for retirees. Dedicated to protecting our customers'​ independence and increasing their quality of life, we leverage deep financial expertise and the best of Silicon Valley technology across all of our services. True Link Financial Advisors, our wealth management division, provides technology-enabled investment advisory services. We also offer the True Link Card – widely recognized for its budgeting and anti-fraud features – and a set of software tools to administer trusts and manage benefits eligibility. Founded in 2012, we are headquartered in San Francisco, California.

True Link offers retirees a personalized investment plan and financial advisory services that focus on providing you with ongoing income over the course of your retirement, while helping you balance how much money you can take out each year.

Through our online planning tool, we first gather the data needed to build your personalized plan. We take into account all your assets, including savings, retirement funds, investment income, pension payments, and more, as well as your spending needs and investment preferences. Additionally, we incorporate health and demographic factors to develop the most accurate plan for your unique situation.

Using a robust investment methodology composed of proven best practices, we then develop a customized portfolio of low-cost ETFs, bond ladders, and insurance products designed to best use your assets to support you in retirement.

Creating a personalized plan with our online tool is free – we’re happy to email you a copy, no strings attached. If you would like support in implementing your plan, we would love the opportunity to serve as your trusted partner. Whenever you’re ready, a True Link Advisor is available to help you get started and see your plan to success.

We focus on retirees, and that means helping you grow and spend your savings in a smart way.

As a retiree, your financial goals are significantly different than those of working adults wealth accumulation is only half of the picture. You need to manage growth and spending, because you want your savings to provide for a fulfilling, lasting retirement. We believe that current investment strategies don’t adequately address this need, which is why we developed a methodology just for retirees. With True Link, you don’t have to worry that someone else’s investment product is being adapted to suit your situation.

We act in your best interest always.

With True Link, you can finally feel confident that investment decisions are always made in your best interest. We use technology to develop an investment plan that is designed to optimize for your unique situation. It’s objective, data-driven, and unbiased. And while computers are great, we think humans play an essential role in managing your funds, understanding nuanced tradeoffs, and providing trusted support over the course of your retirement. We exclusively hire financial advisors who have demonstrated exceptional ethical conduct in their professional lives. No compromises. Additionally, True Link Advisors are motivated by helping you succeed, not by commissions. It’s an approach designed to earn your trust something that so often is missing in the financial services industry.

True Link’s investment methodology combines five pillars of smart investing into one holistic approach. While each pillar exists as a stand-alone best practice, we believe that a unified theory offers retirees a more effective, robust solution to generating income later in life. The five pillars are:

Time-based allocations

Any investment professional will tell you that money needed tomorrow should be invested differently than money needed in twenty years. Our technology-enabled planning tools create distinct investment allocations for specific periods of time over the course of your retirement. This fine-grained approach to investing has long been available to high-net worth individuals; our tools make it available to all retirees. Once we’ve divided up your savings into virtual chunks, we invest each chunk separately. The investment strategies we use depend on how many years into the future you’ll actually need the money. Once you start to withdraw money from your retirement savings, we need to adjust your investments on an annual basis.

Investments and annuities

Depending on your income goals and assets, an annuity, which provides guaranteed* future income for an upfront payment, might make sense for you. When appropriate, we include annuities as an option in your plan, alongside investment vehicles like funds of stocks and bonds. True Link Advisors implement a holistic plan and, for some retirees, annuities can be an important component.

* Guarantees are subject to the claims-paying ability of the issuing company.

Modern Portfolio Theory

We apply Modern Portfolio Theory to determine asset class combinations and to create an efficient, holistic portfolio that is designed to avoid risk beyond what is inherent in the market. Modern Portfolio Theory is a quantitative approach to investing that seeks to maximize expected performance at a given level of risk.

Bond ladders to avoid loss

A bond ladder takes your income needs and buys bonds or bond funds, which are a collection of bonds designed to provide diversification and reduce risk, with maturity dates that roughly match when you’ll need the money. Insurance companies and other big enterprises use bond ladders to earn a return on money they’re not using but to have it available when they need it. With True Link, everyday retirees can take advantage of this same tool, earning a return on funds you won’t need for some time, yet not subjecting yourself to extra risk from market conditions or interest rate changes.

Personalized to your needs

We use your information – from health, age, and gender to spending needs and assets – to produce a plan that is personalized for you. In executing this plan, our Advisors factor in additional information to customize your plan further, including tax status of accounts, current portfolio, and family situation. You have unique needs and you should have a unique financial plan. Our technology tools and caring Advisors work in concert to build and implement that plan for you.

When it comes to financial services, we believe that trust must be earned – not assumed. That’s why we take transparency and accountability so seriously. Here’s how we hope to gain your trust.

It’s a service we’re proud to share with family and friends.

True Link is a leader of a new generation of ethical financial services firms. We built this company because we needed our services for our own families and didn’t trust the options out there. Now we’re here to be a reliable partner to you and your family.

We use an objective approach to help ensure an effective solution.

We believe strongly in using technology to develop the most effective solution for your financial needs in retirement. We use an objective, data-driven approach to ensure you get information that’s reliable – not biased or swayed by uninformed opinions.

We prioritize transparency and clarity.

Our investment methodology and underlying models are complex, enabling us to develop detailed personalized plans. However, we know that complexity can get in the way of transparency and understanding. That’s why we’ve worked hard to translate our approach into clear, understandable language and to provide you with an online tool that is easy-to-use but not dumbed-down. We want you to feel comfortable – and confident – in the information provided and the decisions you make.

We hire Advisors with real values.

.At True Link, we believe that a financial advisor who relies on expensive fad products or makes decisions based on ego or intuition just isn’t good enough. Self-described “hot shots” need not apply. The qualities we value are a little different – accountability, honesty, and intelligence with humility. In fact, here’s our hiring criteria for True Link Advisors; we’re proud to share it:

  • Demonstrated expertise in investment management.
  • Flawless track record when it comes to acting ethically, transparently, and in the best interest of the client.
  • Motivated by a desire to provide truly remarkable service.
We don’t pay commissions, ever. 

Our Advisors never receive commissions for the services they provide or products they offer. Our goal is to align values and incentives – it just makes sense.

No hidden costs – only one fee.

With True Link, there are no transaction, account, or annual fees. We charge one simple management fee when you work with our team to implement your plan, and it’s significantly lower than what most traditional financial advisors charge.

Our favorite standard is the fiduciary standard.

The Department of Labor recently issued a rule requiring retirement investment advisors to “put their clients' best interest before their own profits.” This may be new for some, but not True Link. The fiduciary standard is at the core of who we are and what we do.

True Link Advisors are experienced financial advisors who can implement your investment plan and act as a resource and thought partner over the full course of your retirement. 

In implementing your personalized investment plan, an Advisor will:

  • Separate out tax-advantaged accounts from other savings and invest those separately, ensuring that you’re meeting payout requirements but taking greatest advantage of the tax-free growth.
  • Adjust the composition of your plan for your income tax bracket and to account for pension and social security income.
  • Review the plan and develop a strategy to migrate over currently-invested assets in a way that balances capital gains concerns.
  • Shop for the best insurance quotes across multiple providers, taking into account cost of living and refundability considerations.
  • Adjust investments, trusts/tax planning, and insurance to address long term care and medical inflation.
  • Purchase and custody the recommended securities.
  • Rebalance* periodically to generate income, adjust for changing needs, market conditions, and the passage of time – we work to keep your portfolio optimized over time for your needs.

To read more about how True Link Advisors are different from traditional financial advisors, please see “How can I trust that True Link is looking out for my best interest?”

* Rebalancing can entail transaction costs and tax consequences that should be considered when determining a rebalancing strategy.

ACCOUNT CUSTODY AND TRANSFER

True Link partners with Charles Schwab to act as custodian of funds. We selected Schwab, one of the largest US custodians, because of their dedication to high-quality service and security. True Link Financial Advisors never takes direct custody of client assets.

If you currently have an account at Charles Schwab, True Link will be added as an advisor and we’ll manage your account there. If you have accounts at other brokerage firms, we'll move them to Charles Schwab and manage them at Schwab. Regardless of your specific situation, our Advisors will manage this process and make it easy for you.

This will depend on your specific situation and goals. We aim to provide you with the right investment allocation for your needs while minimizing any costs associated with transitioning your current portfolio. Our Advisors will work closely with you to implement your True Link plan, including developing a personalized transition plan for your assets.

Questions? Email us at advisors@truelinkfinancial.com, call our direct line at (855) 381-5995, or schedule a consultation here.

Security

Your funds will be held in accounts that come with Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) coverage, which protects securities and cash of the customers of its members up to a maximum of $500,000, of which $250,000 may be cash. For additional information about SIPC coverage, including a brochure, please call (202) 371-8300 or visit www.sipc.org.

At True Link, we protect your data just like we protect our own. In fact, because we use our own products and services, we literally protect your information right alongside ours. We constantly monitor threats to data security and take proactive steps to ensure that our systems are fully protected.

Security technology

Protecting your privacy and the security of your account is important to us. To ensure the security of all your transactions, we:

  • Use the strongest and most up-to-date encryption to secure your communications with us
  • Use security best practices to secure your data stored with us, as well as the communication of that data with our partners (VPNs, SSL/TLS, data at rest encryption)
  • All of our servers are protected by network and host-based firewalls; we optionally allow you to set up two-factor authentication protecting you from password theft issues on other sites
  • All administrator access requires two-factor authentication
  • Critical infrastructure is also protected by two-factor authentication
What you can do to protect your security

Call. While we use all of our technical power to protect your data once it's in our system, it's very important that you remain vigilant against various ways in which scammers can try and get at your data. Here are a few simple things that you can do to help ensure that your data is secure:

  • Use unique, hard-to-guess passwords for different online sites, and update them every six months
  • Never send sensitive information like your social security number, password, or credit card numbers in an email

Be wary of any email that looks suspicious. Remember to:

  • Stop - Scammers will generally add a sense of urgency to their emails
  • Look - See if the claims in the email make sense, and check to see if links actually go to the site of the institution that sent them
  • Call - If you’re still not sure, give us a call at the publicly listed phone number on our Contact Us page

True Link Financial will never ask for your password by email or over the phone. If you are asked for this information, please alert us immediately.

No.  We never have, never do, and never will.

Please contact us at the publicly listed phone number on our Contact Us page. We’d be happy to answer any further questions you have or put you in touch with a security specialist.

Managing my account

You can see all your accounts and holdings at any time on your True Link dashboard via web, tablet, or phone. Periodic electronic statements are also provided by Charles Schwab and True Link.

You can move money in and out of your account as needed, on demand, or on an automated basis according to your plan. True Link’s systems are specifically designed for retirees who are drawing income from investments, so moving funds in and out of accounts is easy to do from our user-friendly online dashboard.

You decide how your assets are invested with guidance from your True Link investment plan and True Link Advisor.

Based on the information you provide, we create an approach we think is prudent and appropriate for your needs and goals, but you are always able to direct the investment of your assets in the way that feels best for you. At True Link, you are always in control of your funds.

If you are not pleased with your service at True Link or would like to close your account for any other reason, we will support you in transitioning to another advisor and make the move as simple as possible. We do not charge any fees to close your account.

Working with a true link advisor

You will have a dedicated Advisor, and you are also welcome to consult with other members of the True Link advisory team.

You will have direct access to your True Link Advisor via phone and email. To contact our Advisors now, call 1-855-381-5995 or email advisors@truelinkfinancial.com.

Taxes

Tax reporting forms will be provided by our custody partner, Charles Schwab.

Fees

When you look at your account statement, you'll always know exactly what you paid – no surprises. We charge an 0.87% fee and invest in a blend of index funds with internal costs ranging from 0.02% to 0.12%, but the total fee will always stay below one percent. We don't charge any load fees or trading fees, and our firm doesn't take a share of the cost ratio of anything we recommend.

Investments Specifics

Modern Portfolio Theory is a quantitative approach to investing that seeks to maximize expected performance at a given level of risk. The foundation of the theory was set set forth in an academic paper by Dr. Harry Markowitz in 1952, and established the concept of a dynamic between risk and return – investors will only take on more risk if they are compensated through a higher expected return. Similarly, investors are more willing to accept lower returns for a reduced level of risk.

Exchange Traded Funds, or ETFs, are a type of security that tracks market indices, commodities, bonds, or other baskets of assets, and trades on a listed exchange. These securities have definitive market directives that directly replicate an established criteria, more typically a market benchmark. ETFs are inherently more tax-efficient relative to other low-cost options, and generally provide diversified exposure to commodities, equities, and bonds.

Additionally, because ETFs trade throughout the day, in comparison to mutual funds which are typically priced at the close of the U.S. market, lag between targeted entrance/exit valuation and fulfilled price can be more actively managed. Please consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses carefully before investing. The prospectus, which contains this and other information about the investment company, can be obtained from the Fund Company or your financial professional. Be sure to read the prospectus carefully before deciding whether to invest.

The idea behind a bond ladder is that bond prices go up and down, due to changes in the stock market or economic outlook, or as a result of changing interest rates. What doesn’t change is how much the company owes you when the bond matures and becomes due. So if you sell bonds that are not yet due – or bond funds that contain bonds that are not yet due – the amount of money you get back will depend on the market, whereas there is less variability in how much you’ll get back if you sell bonds that are due now or in the near future.

A bond ladder takes your income needs and buys bonds or bond funds, which are a collection of bonds designed to provide diversification and reduce risk, with maturity dates that roughly match when you’ll need the money. Insurance companies and other big enterprises use bond ladders to earn a return on money they’re not using but to have it available when they need it. Now, everyday retirees can take advantage of this same tool, earning a return on funds they won’t need for some time, yet not subjecting themselves to extra risk from market conditions or interest rate changes.

Investment forecasting is complicated, so please refer to the disclosures for a detailed explanation. The short answer is we use a combination of data sources, including past performance of the underlying securities and asset classes; the financial disclosures associated with, for example, the bond funds; projections by third-party analysts like BlackRock; comparisons to other similar investment vehicles; and our own analysis to arrive at an answer.

Dividends are factored into the overall allocation model with respect to target liquidity, disbursement needs, and invested assets.

Annuities provide guaranteed* income for life but are often criticized for high fees, low returns, and inflexibility in case of unexpected financial needs. With increases in longevity, seniors can’t afford to have all of their portfolio in a low-return vehicle over the course of decades. True Link’s approach is to include an annuity for its insurance value, providing guaranteed income even in situations of unexpected longevity, but to balance it with other elements of the portfolio to offer higher returns and lower overall costs.

* Guarantees are subject to the claims-paying ability of the issuing company.

Getting started with True Link

1. Create your plan 

Use our online planning tool to create your personalized retirement investment plan here.

2. Review and revise your plan 

Discuss your plan with a True Link Advisor via phone or email. We’ll gather additional information about your current investments, taxes, and personal goals, and answer any questions you may have. In speaking with an Advisor, you are under no obligation to hire True Link to implement your plan. Our goal is to provide clear, measured information that better helps you weigh your options.

3. Prepare your plan 

If you would like True Link to manage your plan, we will begin the process by opening accounts at Schwab, our third-party custodian. You will be able to fund these with cash or transfer securities.

4. Launch your plan 

Once funds are transferred, True Link will set your plan in motion. As your plan manager, we’ll monitor and rebalance your portfolio, take steps to reduce your tax bill, and work hard to make sure you’re getting the most out of your retirement investments.

The True Link Card

No. True Link Cards are prepaid cards that can be used everywhere Visa cards are accepted. We do not charge interest or overdraft fees.

Yes. Funds up to $250,000 on True Link Prepaid Visa Cards are FDIC insured.

The card is as secure as any debit or credit card. For more information, please refer to our page on security.

With the True Link Card, you can customize the card settings to block, limit, or allow merchants or categories of spending. Additionally, you can set spending limits, block access to cash, and receive real-time alerts* via text or email. 

*Standard messaging rates apply

True Link Cards can be set up and managed by family members, trusted friends, professionals, or even self-administered.

True Link Cards can be funded either from a bank account or via direct deposit. After you sign up for an account, you are able to connect a bank account and schedule automatic or manual funding payments online, or set up a direct deposit transfer. The True Link Protection Prepaid Visa Card cannot be funded directly via direct deposits of SSI or other government benefits.

Our monthly card fee is $10.00. You will not be charged any fees to make purchases. Click here for a detailed description of all fees.

The fastest and easiest way to order a card is online. Click here to get started. If you need assistance, please call 1-800-299-7646 during business hours and a representative will guide you through the process.

The True Link Card works everywhere Visa cards are accepted, except for the individual merchants and categories of spending that the card administrator has blocked. 

If you decide to allow cash withdrawals, the card can be used at any ATM. True Link does not charge ATM fees, but it's important to note that most ATMs charge a service fee. The administrator can also choose to allow the cardholder to request cash back when making a purchase. There is no fee for cash back transactions.

You can choose to allow, limit, or block online or phone purchases – effectively, any purchase where the cardholder is not physically present.

If you block a merchant, the True Link Card will not work at that merchant location. If you block a type of merchant (e.g., magazine subscriptions, bars, pawn shops), the True Link Card will not work at any merchants identified as part of that merchant category. If you are concerned about a particular merchant or type of merchant, but don’t want to block purchases there, you can also choose to allow those transactions while receiving an instant notification* of any transactions via text or email.

*Standard messaging rates apply

Spending limits ensure that if a mistake does get made, it’s not a big mistake. With the True Link Card, you can set per-purchase spending limits. You decide the maximum that can be spent on any individual purchase and the card will be denied for any purchases larger than your set limit. You can also choose to allow transactions while receiving an instant notification* via text or email when spending crosses a certain limit.

*Standard messaging rates apply

You can instantly block an account for any reason, at any time, using your True Link dashboard or by calling our Customer Support team. You will not need to cancel the card, and if you decide to un-block the card, you can do so instantly without the trouble of ordering a new card.

Yes. There are a few ways you can block or allow specific merchants:

  • If a purchase has already been attempted or completed, find that purchase in the Transactions Tab of your online dashboard, click “Review” next to the charge, and then block or allow that specific merchant in the future.
  • If you would like to proactively block or allow a specific merchant, simply go to your Spending Monitor Tab and add that merchant in the Merchant Settings section.

No. At this time, we are unable to block specific items in a store. If a specific store is allowed, the cardholder may purchase anything within that store.