FIRST ASCENT IS NOW PART OF GEOWEALTH! LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS POWERFUL PARTNERSHIP.

SELF-HELP DESK

First Ascent Resources  & How-to’s

Not seeing what you’re looking for? For questions or more information on any of these topics, please reach out to your First Ascent representative or clientservice@firstascentam.com.

3 Help Topics

Account Opening

Liquidating Assets

Some assets should be sold prior to transferring to First Ascent.

Clients will incur trading costs for some securities, such as mutual funds and individual bonds, if they are transferred to the new account then sold by First Ascent. Clients may be better off liquidating those securities at the contra firm prior to transferring assets to their new account to be managed by First Ascent.

Investing New Accounts

First Ascent fully invests all new accounts according to our models.

When a new account is funded First Ascent will fully liquidate all securities in the account and invest them in the First Ascent model selected by the client/advisor. If you would like any legacy assets to continue to be held in the account, those must be specifically identified in the new account application’s special instructions.

Additionally, if accounts should be handled any other way such as dollar cost averaging or a tax review prior to selling securities, those requests must be approved by First Ascent prior to submitting the new account application. Those requests must also be specifically noted in the new account application’s special instructions.

Treatment of Cash & Dividends

Treatment of Cash:

By default, our models have a 1% cash buffer. On a daily basis, we are alerted to, and act upon, cash (or security) contributions to a managed account. Assuming a client does not have recurring distributions set up and there is not a cash restriction on the account, if cash exceeds 2%, we will bring that amount back down to 1% by investing the excess cash into the model portfolio assigned to the account.

We also run a monthly review process that catches cash greater than 2% that developed for a reason other than a contribution. Those reasons could include:

  • If or when non-model positions in the account pay out income/dividends
  • In a sub-advisory relationship: 1) if the advisor did not set the account to reinvest income/dividends, and/or 2) If trades occurred that we did not initiate, and the advisor forgot to alert us

When an account is sleeved into a managed and non-model portion, we do not monitor or act on the non-model portion and would only invest cash from that sleeve when directed by the advisor to transfer it over to the managed account.

Treatment of Dividends:

For Full Service / Direct Investment Management arrangements, our default is to NOT reinvest dividends. The exception to that is for accounts with recurring distributions set up. In that case, we don’t automatically reinvest dividends in an effort to maintain the appropriate level of cash needed for the recurring distributions with as little trading as possible.

For positions that are not managed by First Ascent, it is up to the advisor to notify us how they wish to handle reinvested dividends on those non-model assets.

For Investment Only / Sub-Advisory arrangements, we ask that the advisor set up the accounts to NOT reinvest dividends at the custodian.

Billing

Frequency & Process

  • All fees are billed quarterly (calendar quarter) and in advance. Please make sure that this process is consistent with your ADV and client agreements.
  • All billing calculations are based on the ending account value on the last day of the prior quarter and are calculated based on the number of days in the year.
  • Accounts opened during a quarter will be charged a pro-rata fee, based on the number of days the account was opened and substantially funded, which will be collected at the beginning of the first full calendar quarter that the account is open. Thus, a new account will have 2 fees initially, 1 for the prior pro-rated quarter and 1 for the upcoming full quarter.
  • Unmanaged and non-model assets are included in First Ascent’s fee calculation.

Fees for Large Households:

Our standard flat fee schedule applies to households up to $3M. There are additional costs and risks associated with larger households, and First Ascent applies a fee adjustment in those cases. Contact First Ascent to discuss pricing prior to submitting an application for a household over $3M.

Fee Billing Options

First Ascent’s Fee Options:

There are three options for how First Ascent’s fees can be billed. Each advisor should choose one method as their default.

  1. First Ascent’s management fee can be billed directly to client accounts as a separate fee in addition to an advisor’s fee. Fees are combined at the custodian and reflected in the client’s account as 1 fee. The client’s quarterly performance report will detail and distinguish the 2 fees.
  2. First Ascent’s fee may be included within an advisor’s fee (“all-in fee”). Only the advisor’s fee will be billed to client accounts. First Ascent will collect that fee and deduct its fee from the advisor’s payout and send the remainder to the advisor. The client’s quarterly performance report will reflect 1 fee (the advisor’s).
  3. If the advisor wishes to pay for First Ascent’s fee directly, First Ascent can collect its fee directly from the advisor’s bank via an ACH.

Advisor’s Fee Options:

First Ascent can accommodate many different fee calculation methodologies for advisors. These include:

  • Asset based fees (%)
  • Flat dollar ($) fees
  • Tiered fee schedules
  • Linear fee schedules

Fees can also be billed prorated across all accounts in a client household or taken from any single account(s).

Advisors can also include a separate financial planning fee.

Collected advisor fees are sent to the advisor’s bank via ACH with a target date by the 15th of month following quarter-end.

Fee Reporting

  • All fees and calculation methodology appear on each client’s quarterly performance report. Reports are posted to client portals each quarter, as well as posted in Orion’s Reporting application for advisor access.
  • All fees and calculation methodology are also posted in an aggregated report for each advisor showing all fees billed on all accounts each quarter. These are posted in Orion’s Secure Exchange application each quarter for advisor access. This report is posted prior to debiting client accounts and advisors are notified by email to review.

Flat Fee Detail & Account Minimums

Full Service & Investment Only

Full Service:
0.35% (AUM)
$1,400 Household Maximum

Investment Only:
0.35% (AUM)
$1,200 Household Maximum

Fees for Large Households:
Our standard flat fee schedule applies to households up to $3M. There are additional costs and risks associated with larger households, and First Ascent applies a fee adjustment in those cases. Contact First Ascent to discuss pricing prior to submitting an application for a household over $3M.

Account Minimums

  • Global Explorer Series – $50,000
  • Global ETF Series – $25,000
  • Factor Select Series – $25,000
  • Dimensional Select Series – $50,000
  • ESG Global Core – $50,000
  • Short-Term Reserve – $25,000
  • Voyager – $3,000 (requires pre-approval)
  • Customized Index Portfolio – $250,000

Trading

Our Portfolios

We execute all trades on a “best efforts” basis. That means we use reasonable efforts to execute trades We manage a number of different series of portfolios. Each series is comprised of mutual funds and/or exchange traded funds (“ETFs”):

  • Each series has portfolios managed at different risk levels.
  • Each series has both a standard and tax-sensitive version.

Below is key information to note regarding our trading policies, guidelines, and procedures:

Policies, Guidelines, and Procedures

Below is key information to note regarding our trading policies, guidelines, and procedures. Click to expand:
K
L
Client Responsibilities

Clients, in consultation with their advisors, determine:

  • The specific portfolio series in which they invest
  • The specific risk level for their portfolio
  • Whether they invest in a standard or tax-sensitive portfolio

We have no discretion to make these selections for clients, nor do we have discretion to change these selections once made. We only make changes of this nature upon proper direction from a client. (When specifically authorized in a Client Agreement, such direction may be communicated to us by the client’s advisor.)

K
L
Discretionary Management

We manage our portfolios on a discretionary basis. We do not consult with, or seek approval from, clients or their advisors before making trades in a client account.

Each portfolio has a target asset class allocation that is set forth in its Portfolio Profile. We manage each portfolio to those targets. We have discretion to make changes to the allocations while staying within the parameters of the portfolios’ risk/return objectives.

We also select mutual funds and/or ETFs for each of our portfolio’s and add or replace mutual funds or ETFs at any time.

K
L
Rebalancing

A portfolio’s asset class allocation may drift away from its targets over time based on factors such as market movements, contributions, or withdrawals.

Rebalancing is the process by which we buy and/or sell portfolio holdings in order to return an account to its target asset allocation once it has departed from that target.

We normally rebalance portfolios on an annual basis in March of every year. However, our investment team has discretion to rebalance portfolios more or less frequently or to alter the timing of portfolio rebalancing for some or all of our portfolios.

We establish asset allocation tolerance limits for each portfolio for internal tracking purposes. If the assets within an account drift outside of those tolerance limits, we may, but are not required to, rebalance the account so that it falls within those asset allocation tolerance limits.

K
L
Tax Loss Harvesting

Tax loss harvesting is the process by which we intentionally sell portfolio positions at a loss in order to generate potential tax losses for investors in our tax-sensitive portfolios. We may, but are not required to, engage in tax-loss harvesting transactions at any time throughout a calendar year.

In most cases, when a position is sold in order to harvest a loss, it is replaced by another position to maintain the portfolio’s proper asset class exposure. The replacement position may remain as a portfolio holding indefinitely, or, after 30 days, may be replaced by the position that was originally sold to harvest the loss.

We conduct tax loss harvesting activities on an account-by-account basis. We do not coordinate tax loss harvesting activities with, or even consider, the purchase or sale of securities held in other accounts.

We do not provide tax advice, nor represent or guarantee that the objectives of our tax loss harvesting program will be met. Clients are advised to consult a qualified tax professional to determine their ability to claim losses based on their individual situations.

K
L
Best Efforts

We execute all trades on a “best efforts” basis. That means we use reasonable efforts to execute trades in a timely and accurate manner.

We do not guarantee that trades will be initiated or settled within a particular time period or at a particular price.

First Ascent is not a broker-dealer and does not have a trading desk. We do not have expertise in trading individual stocks, bonds, or other securities. We focus only in trading the ETFs and mutual funds that we use in our portfolios.

We transact all purchases and sales of securities through the custodian where the client’s account is maintained.

K
L
Trade Requests

Advisors may submit a request to raise cash, change a model portfolio, or provide direction about an unmanaged asset in the account, by using the Trade Request Form below. Complete the form, and email to: clientservice@firstascentam.com.

We only accept written instructions regarding the opening, closing, trading, or management of an account. Trade instructions are never accepted via phone, voicemail, or any other verbal means.

K
L
Trade Timing

We try to implement instructions received by 1:00 pm (ET) on the day received. Orders received after 1:00 pm (ET) are prioritized for the following day. Notwithstanding these trading goals, we do not guarantee that trades will be initiated or settled within a particular time period.

Situations will arise when securities are sold and purchased at different times and even different days. This will result in portions of the portfolio being “out of the market” for periods of time and possibly result in missed market opportunities.

While we use best efforts to minimize these situations, we are not responsible for any losses or opportunities arising from these events.

We are focused on long-term investing. We make no effort to time the market, nor do we anticipate the direction of either the securities markets or any particular security.

K
L
Investing of Accounts

We invest all new accounts and/or contributions, according to our models. Any requests for exceptions to this policy must be approved by us, in writing, prior to submitting a new account application.

Investing a portfolio, after it is funded, may take place over a period of time for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, normal trading procedures (sell existing holdings one day and purchase into the model the next), heavy trade volume, custodian or 3rd party service provider issues.

Other activities, such as liquidating all or part of an account or tax loss harvesting, may be conducted over extended time periods.

K
L
Volatile Markets

Securities markets can be volatile, and the values of securities can and do change significantly on a daily basis. Because of our approach to trading and the possible delays that may occur in connection with our trading activities, the markets may move either up or down significantly before trades are initiated or completed.

We reserve the right to avoid trading on volatile days, and absent specific instruction to trade on a certain date, may defer placing trades. Even with specific instructions, we only commit to providing best efforts.

K
L
Non-Exchange Traded Securities

For securities that do not readily trade on an exchange (individual bonds, CDs) we will work to assist in the liquidation of those securities by coordinating through the client’s custodian to obtain bids for the securities and then relaying those bids to the client’s advisor for final decision. Bids for these securities may change and are not final until accepted by both parties.

K
L
Limited Liability

Securities markets can be volatile, and the values of securities can and do change significantly on a daily basis. Because of our approach to trading and the possible delays that may occur in connection with our trading activities, the markets may move either up or down significantly before trades are initiated or completed.

We reserve the right to avoid trading on volatile days, and absent specific instruction to trade on a certain date, may defer placing trades. Even with specific instructions, we only commit to providing best efforts.

K
L
Changes to These Policies, Guidelines, and Procedures

We may add new trading policies, guidelines, or procedures, or modify existing ones whenever we deem it to be in the best interests of our clients or determine that it is otherwise advisable.

Tax Management

Tax-Loss Harvesting
Tax loss harvesting is the process by which we intentionally sell portfolio positions at a loss in order to generate potential tax losses for investors in our tax-sensitive portfolios. We may, but are not required to, engage in tax-loss harvesting transactions at any time throughout a calendar year.

In most cases, when a position is sold in order to harvest a loss, it is replaced by another position to maintain the portfolio’s proper asset class exposure. The replacement position may remain as a portfolio holding indefinitely, or, after 30 days, may be replaced by the position that was originally sold to harvest the loss.

We conduct tax loss harvesting activities on an account-by-account basis. We do not coordinate tax loss harvesting activities with, or even consider, the purchase or sale of securities held in other accounts.

We do not provide tax advice, nor represent or guarantee that the objectives of our tax loss harvesting program will be met. Clients are advised to consult a qualified tax professional to determine their ability to claim losses based on their individual situations.

Tax-Sensitive Portfolios
All First Ascent portfolios are available in tax-sensitive versions. The goal of our tax-sensitive portfolios is to reduce the amount of current taxes paid by clients, thus helping to preserve their wealth.

Our general approach to portfolio management helps keep realization of taxes low in two ways. First, our portfolios are predominantly invested in lower turnover, broadly diversified funds that tend to be fairly tax efficient. Second, our portfolios have relatively low turnover, which also keeps realization of taxes low.

In order to further increase their tax efficiency, we perform the following additional services for each account that is invested in one of our tax-sensitive portfolios. Click to expand:

K
L
Employ Tax Efficient Trading Practices

For accounts at our primary custodian where we have control over account set-up, we elect to prioritize trades in the following order, which is designed to strategically sell lots with unrealized losses in the most tax efficient manner.

  • Short-term loss—descending order by cost per share (highest to lowest), and as a result, taking the biggest short-term losses first
  • Long-term loss—descending order by cost per share
  • Long-term gain—descending order by cost per share (highest to lowest), and as a result, taking the smallest long-term gain first
  • Short-term gain—descending order by cost per share

Please note that this method does not factor in the possibility that a lot sold via this method will itself cause a wash sale, and therefore disallow the loss on the trade itself.

K
L
Harvest Tax Losses

Periodically, based on changes in market conditions, our investment team monitors our portfolios for potential tax loss harvesting opportunities. If we identify opportunities to harvest losses, we may implement trades to capitalize on them if we believe the potential benefits outweigh the costs.

K
L
Select Tax Efficient Investments

We review each investment in our portfolios for tax efficiency and generally avoid investing in mutual funds or ETFs if we deem them to have excessive turnover or capital gains distributions, or if we believe they are otherwise inefficient for a taxable account.

K
L
Monitor Capital Gains Distributions

Our investment team monitors expected year-end capital gains distributions from each fund in our tax- sensitive portfolios. If a security is expected to distribute a significant capital gain, we may trade out of that position to avoid a taxable event.

K
L
Use Tax-Exempt Fixed Income

We utilize tax-exempt bonds in place of traditional fixed income.

Emails & Notifications

The following is a summary of the communications that your client will receive upon opening an account with First Ascent and on an ongoing basis after the account has been established.

When an account is opened:

Orion: Orion will send the client an email from the “First Ascent Team” with instructions on how to access the First Ascent client portal once the account is opened, funded, and invested, provided the advisor has elected to give their client(s) access to the portal. The email will come from “noreply@orionadvisor.com.” Below is a sample email.

For security purposes, your client will only have 24 hours to act once they have received the email.

After an account is opened:
First Ascent: First Ascent may send emails directly to clients in limited circumstances when directed to do so by an advisor. For example, First Ascent may send an email/DocuSign package to get a client’s signature on a “move money” form if directed to do so by an advisor.

Orion: Orion will send email notices from the “First Ascent Team” when performance reports become available. These emails contain links to access the reports. These notices are only sent to clients whose advisors have given them access to the First Ascent client portal. The email will come from “noreply@orionadvisor.com.”

Accessing the First Ascent Client Portal
First Ascent partners with Orion Advisor Solutions to provide the client portal. When the account was initially invested your client should have received an email from: NoReply@OrionAdvisor.com with their login credentials.

If they did not receive an email or they have forgotten their credentials, use the following instructions below to get logged in:

  • Navigate to the First Ascent website: https://www.firstascentam.com
  • Click on “Client Portal” in the upper right-hand corner
  • In the center of the page, click “Go To Account Services.”
  • A new window will appear prompting credentials. Enter your username (typically this is your email address). Then, click on “Forgot Password?”
  • Click on “Send Me Instructions.”
  • An email from NoReply@OrionAdvisor.com will be sent to the email address on file. Follow the instructions to reset your password.

For security purposes, your client will only have 15 minutes to act once they have received the email.

Orion Reporting

Orion Reporting Tutorials
Many of the reports that are available to you are located in the Orion Portal. You can access the Orion Portal from the First Ascent Advisor Portal. See videos below: