Financial advisors get a bad wrap and I can't say it's entirely uncalled for...there are some *really* bad advisors out there. They invest YOUR money in products that are great for THEIR pocketbook but not necessarily yours. They put their needs in front of yours but they do it with your hard earned money.
Just as there are bad advisors, there are also bad waiters, personal trainers, news broadcasters, doctors, etc. Shady "experts" exist in every profession!
I'm here to tell you that there are also some phenomenal advisors! They're working hard for YOU and your money. They give up a bigger commission to invest your money where it belongs. They ignore their their own short-term gains because they know having you as a client long-term is more important.
But how do you know you're choosing an advisor who's qualified and not a total scoundrel? Unfortunately, there's no annual report that lists the names of bad advisors so it comes down to some good ol' fashion interrogation! 🙂
5 Ways to Choosing the Right Financial Advisor
1.Realize you are HIRING this person! Individuals go into a meeting with an advisor feeling so intimidated that they forgot the first crucial point - The advisor must EARN the right to manage your investments! You are choosing where to put your money! You could choose anyone so the advisor should have a darn good reason why you should choose him/her. This also leads into Step #2.
2. Interview the Advisor: Determine what characteristics matter to you and determine if the advisor fits this bill. Some individuals hang their hat on a person's education yet others think this is irrelevant. At the same time, if "experience" is important to you, you may not want an advisor who has only been in the business a year. Or if you want someone who is "passionate", you may not want an advisor who "fell" into the business by default. Here are some questions you can ask:
a. How did you get started in Financial Advising?
b. Who is your ideal client? (If you aren't their ideal client, how will you be treated a year from now?)
c. What other positions have you held?
d. Why should I choose you?
e. Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years?
You may be able to determine rather quickly whether or not this person is a good fit for you. Are they generally positive in their response or negative? Do they communicate in a way that makes sense to you? Are you getting a good vibe from them? This leads you to Step #3!
3. Follow your instincts! A client said to me last week, "I met with this guy but I don't know...I just didn't feel right about it."
Say no more. There doesn't have to be a reason. You didn't connect with the person and that's all that matters. It doesn't mean the advisor is bad/unethical/shady by any means, it just means they're not a good fit for you, your personality, or your communication style and that's okay.
4. Connect with the Financial Advisor: Your relationship with a Financial Advisor will hopefully be one that lasts a lifetime. That's a lot of meetings with a person you don't really like or have anything in common. Your money says a lot about you, your goals and your priorities- in order to understand your money, they must understand this side of you. This is secondary to the qualifications you're looking for in Step 2 but this is what separates a Financial Advisor you meet with once a year with someone you feel has your back and supports you throughout life's events. Do you feel comfortable sharing your hopes and dreams with the person? Do they understand you on this deeper level?
5. Keep it Simple: Unless you have millions of dollars, your investments should be pretty straightforward. If your advisor tries to "talk over you" or answers your questions as if they're a politician (really, a simple "Yes" or "No" will do just fine), I would run. Here are a few things to tune into:
a. "It's complicated, just trust me..." This is not good enough.
b. "My commission off this transaction would be ___." This is Great! It's okay for them to be paid for their services but they should be up front and transparent with their commission! Always ask "What are the fees for this type of account?"
c. "This is your only option." Ha! 99 times out of 100 I'm willing to bet you have a number of options so if your advisor says this, I would question it. Know your options!
No matter who you choose to help you invest the money, it is still YOUR money. Find an advisor you trust and this will be a relationship that cultivates financial success!
I am not a financial advisor. I'm here for you, my client, and only you. I'm happy to help you find a great advisor and even meet with them right along side you to help you make the best choice!