Selecting the perfect financial advisor for your needs can be tricky. There are usually multiple financial advisors in each city and we highly recommend speaking with several before making a decision.
Consider both objective factors, some noted below, and subjective factors. Why subjective? Because you need to feel comfortable working with the advisor you choose, and you need to trust them. Don’t ignore your “gut feeling” when speaking with potential financial advisors. It just might save you a lot of headache and heartache down the road.
Now, here are a few tips to help you make the best decision when evaluating financial professionals to work with.
1. Decide what help you need.
The term financial advisor is, unfortunately, unregulated. Because of this, it is often unclear exactly what level of help the advisor can provide.
Many financial advisors focus on just one area of your financial life. In this case, they might be an insurance salesperson, an investment manager, a tax preparer, or work in another financial profession. These professionals are great options if your needs are limited in scope to one financial area of your life.
There are also advisors who are holistic* financial planners. These professionals include each of the areas above in their planning services – plus a lot more. A holistic approach will look at your financial landscape and consider each factor when developing a unified plan to achieve your personal goals.
* Cambridge Dictionary defines holistic as “relating to… the total system instead of just to its parts”
2. Consider a fee-only financial advisor.
Traditionally most financial advisors made money through sales and commissions. Even today this remains a popular compensation model. The challenge is that when someone is paid varying commission levels for products and services it’s in their best interest to sell the solutions that earn them the most money.
Now, just because someone gets paid on commission doesn’t mean they are giving bad advice. In fact, commissions are about the only way insurance brokers get paid. But it does create an obvious conflict of interest that should be disclosed and navigated.
A fee-only financial advisor does not get paid any commissions or sales incentives. The only compensation they receive for services is the fee agreed upon in advance and paid directly from their clients. This allows them to “sit on the same side of the table” as their clients to advocate for the client’s best interests.
3. Work with a fiduciary.
Consider working with a financial advisor who will function in a fiduciary capacity for you. Make sure it is in writing though.
Financial advisors who are fiduciaries are required to act in the best interests of their cl