Finding a Financial Advisor or Planner
Finding a fiduciary financial advisor who best suits your needs can be harder than finding a new hairdresser – and obviously a great deal more important, as your hard-earned money doesn’t grow back.
Whether this is your first time looking for a financial advisor or you have decided to make a change from your existing one, it can be a nerve-wracking process. After all, finding someone you will trust with your financial future Is not something to take lightly. A mistake in your portfolio could affect when you retire and how comfortably you do so.
Although referrals from friends and family can be helpful, be sure to consider if those recommendations are coming from financially-savvy individuals in a similar situation as yourself. If your consistently-broke Uncle Eddy gives you the name of “his guy,” you may want to think twice before taking his advice. Literally anyone can call themselves a financial planner, with no need of education or credentials.
The initial interview between potential advisor and potential client is a two-way street. The advisor will ask you questions to have a picture of who you are, where you are at and what your financial goals are, but don’t be passive in this interview. This is your opportunity to interview them as well.
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FIRM
• How long have you been managing wealth?
Ideally you want to look for a firm that has been managing wealth at least ten years because they have experienced a full market cycle. However, consider that hiring a firm with 30 years experience may indicate that your financial advisor will retire before you do.
ABOUT THEIR INVESTMENT STRATEGY & SERVICE MODEL
• Tell me your investment philosophy.
This is where you want to determine the advisor’s thoughts on active vs. passive mutual funds. You may also want to determine the advisor’s thoughts on real estate. If you are okay with being a little less liquid with a portion of your wealth, real estate could be an important part of a well-balanced portfolio.
• Tell me your service model. How are we going to communicate?
It is best practice to have at least a quarterly review with your financial advisor, so you can review your asset allocation and performance compared to the benchmark index. Find out if the firm will be responsible for scheduling that meeting with you, or if you need to call them.
• Can you show me an example of a portfolio review?
Seeing an example of a portfolio review will allow you to become familiar with the reports you will receive. It should include what the asset allocation is, what the ROI (return on investment), and compare that ROI to the major benchmark indexes. Be sure to ask your advisor of anything you don’t understand on the report.
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