While juggling a career, personal responsibilities and finding time for yourself – it can be difficult to effectively manage your finances and make your money work for you. If you want to make better financial decisions, you need a financial expert’s advice. Since so many companies and advisors are punting seemingly the same thing, it can be hard to know which best suits your needs. Here are five things to look for in your perfect financial advisor.
1) Know what aspect of your finances you need help with and research the companies
To make the most out of the first meeting with your financial advisor – you should have some idea of what area of your finances you need help with. The ideal financial advisor should be able to provide quality advice and put a holistic plan together for all your financial needs.
Depending on your life stage, you may not require the full range of financial offerings (i.e. in the case of some young professionals with no dependents). However, meeting with an advisor could highlight potential shortfalls in your financial plan and areas of key focus, even if you thought that you were comprehensively covered.
The key areas that our IWCP financial planners can assist in are insurance coverage, investment advice, retirement planning, budgeting help, debt repayment advice, estate planning and more, through the assistance of our value-added partners.
You should also try to find out as much as possible about the companies that your potential advisors work for. The company they represent can act as a good opening in judging the intentions of that particular advisor.
2) Check the credentials of the financial advisor
Individuals that are seeking financial advice should check the professional qualifications of the advisor they are considering. The professional qualifications that one should be on the lookout for are the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) designation and the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation. These qualifications demonstrate that the advisor has mastered a complex body of knowledge and have passed comprehensive examinations to be awarded the qualification.
Though these qualifications signal that the advisor has a broad and deep understanding of the financial realm, it does not mean that they will indeed act in your best interests. At IWCP all of our advisors undergo rigorous continuous professional development in order for them to stay up to date with current financial trends and to give sound financial advice based on the needs of their clients.
3) Find an advisor who will keep you on track
Having the perfect financial plan and understanding all the details is a good starting point but is completely redundant without effective implementation. And that is where the financial advisor can truly showcase their value by helping you action your financial plan and keeping you motivated along the way. The best advisors have 3 main qualities, namely: expertise, modesty and empathy. The ability of the advisor to listen to the needs of their client and create a plan to accurately reflect those wishes should never be underestimated.
The role of the financial advisor is sometimes to act as a psychologist and confidant when significant events happen in their clients’ life. Whether it be positive or negative volatility in the stock market impacting their investments, or in an event where you suffer a debilitating accident or illness – your advisor should be there, guiding you along the way.
4) Get an advisor who provides you with clarity
When consulting with a financial advisor, look for clarity when asking questions regarding your portfolio, the company they represent or any technical questions you may have. If you feel that the advisor is avoiding a topic or making you feel incompetent – you should walk away as you cannot build a trusting long-term relationship without clear and concise answers.
If it is not clear that the advisor is acting in your best interests – it is advisable that you step away and take your business elsewhere. Advisors should not charge fees without fully explaining what they are for, actively trade on your account without explicit authorization or coerce you into purchasing any products that are not actually needed for your circumstances.
5) Questions that you should ask your financial advisor
When meeting with an advisor and searching for clarity, there are some key questions that you should ask.
1) How do you get paid?
2) What professional qualifications and credentials do you have?
3) What areas of financial planning do you specialize in?
4) How often will we meet to review my portfolio?
5) Do you collaborate with any specialists? (I.e., Attorneys, Accountants, Tax practitioners or fiduciary specialists)
6) Do you have any conflicts of interest in managing my portfolio?
7) What type of clients do you work with?
8) How do you approach financial planning?
9) What will happen to my portfolio should you decide to change firms?
10) How does your performance get measured at work?
It can be easy to let your finances fall by the wayside, especially when life gets busy or stressful. A good financial advisor will help keep you on track. Finding the right advisor to help you achieve your goals is a lot like finding the right doctor. You need someone who understands what you’re talking about, can create a holistic plan to accommodate these needs and is someone you trust. To find this person, do your research. Ask around. Find someone who has been there, who has done what you’re looking to do and who can give you concrete advice based on their experience.
And lastly, if you have got a financial advisor that you know, trust and can vouch for their financial planning skills – do not hesitate to refer them to the people you most care about. This will allow those people to benefit from the services that you are continuing to receive.