What You Need to Look for in an Advisor
Most of us have a family doctor and a dentist; health practitioners who help us take care of our physical health. But what about our financial health? Doesn’t it make sense that someone help us with that, too? (and no, your brother-in-law who has ‘hot tips’ on the market doesn’t count.)
But where do you start? Maybe you’ll ask your friends and family if they have an advisor, how they found them, and if they’re happy with them. Perhaps if your parents currently work with an advisor, you’ll consider using him or her. And of course, there’s always Google; however, if you search “financial advisor”, you’ll get a staggering 27 million results! How ever you go about finding an advisor, it’s great you’re taking the important first steps for planning your financial future with an expert.
Whether you’ll be interacting with an advisor for the first time, or you already have an advisor but want to see what else is out there, there are a few things you might want to think about ahead of your initial meeting.
Does the shoe fit?
Simply put, do you like the advisor? Do you click with them? Do you feel that you can trust the person in front of you? Those questions are extremely important. You are about to get ‘financially naked’ in front of them so you need to feel comfortable with them.
Are they relatable?
Does an advisor in his 60s understand the life goals of a millennial? Maybe. And vise-versa, can a 25-year-old relate to someone nearing retirement? Maybe. Age may not matter as much as fit; ultimately, they need to “get” you.
How important are you to them?
Are you going to be one of hundreds (maybe thousands) of clients who may get lost in the crowd, or are you going to be a top priority for them? Service level is important, so don’t be shy to ask who is their ideal client, and how many clients they are taking care of.
How can they help you?
What is their added value compared to another advisor? It’s okay to ask them this. See how they react to this question, and how they answer it.
Once you found the advisor that fits, your second stop should be their governing authority. ALWAYS verify the licenses that the advisor says they have. Can they sell you insurance? Can they sell stocks and ETFs, or just mutual funds? It’s important to know this because depending of your needs, you may need an advisor who is licensed to sell more than just one product.
If you’re dealing with a good advisor, they will probably give you homework to do at the end of the first meeting.
Lastly, the advisor will need some basic information from you. I would ask the following:
• Do you currently have a budget (so I can understand where your money is going)?
• What is your current net worth (what you own versus what you owe)?
I would also work with you to complete an investor profile (or questionnaire) to assess your comfort level regarding market volatility.
Remember, you do not need to be an expert in financial planning, you just need to have a proper financial planning expert by your side.