Finding help with your money can be one of the most daunting tasks. There is a sea of professionals and how do you know whom to trust and will do a great job. When done correctly a successful partnership can take pressure and pains off your plate and have someone to help you navigate challenging financial times. When done incorrectly a poor partnership will lead to additional stress and potentially loss of money.
Be picky, take your time, and ask a lot of questions. Below is a list of questions to help as a starting point for any relationship with a financial advisor.
- What is your long-term continuity plan?
- This question is particularly important for women because of life expectancy. Double check that your advisor has their plan in place while working on yours.
- Are your recommendations truly in my best interest and how do I know?
- The word fiduciary gets thrown around a lot. At its core it means that an advisor always puts their client’s interest before their own. Pay attention to payment and personal investments.
- Can you tell me more about how you invest and plan personally?
- If a financial advisor is not willing to allow you right alongside of them, they might not be a good fit. Additionally, an advisor that is not willing to share the lessons they personally have learned is a big red flag. (Keep in mind that most money managers do not invest in their own funds https://www.morningstar.com/articles/690600/why-you-should-invest-with-managers-who-eat-their-own-cooking)
- How often will I hear form you and what is the best way to reach you?
- Being clear about expectations ahead of time will solve many problems. Are you comfortable with the contact schedule? What happens if you need more help?
- What financial problems will you help me solve and how have you done that for your current clients?
- Learn as much as you can about the current clients they serve. What problems have they solved in the past? What areas do they focus on? (investments, taxes, insurance, estate planning, etc.)
- What happens when we disagree?
- You may want to spend more money than recommended. How will they communicate that with you? What about when it comes to dealing with family financial matters? You may want to help a child and they may recommend against it, what is the best way to work through disagreements.
- How do you get paid and where can it be found?
- Any advisor should be upfront about what it costs to work with them and how they get paid. If it is not clear and in writing you may want to look somewhere else.
These questions are just a starting point. A good relationship takes work and communication from both parties. It is better to look for more clarity up front than to second guess later.
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