Having a trusted advisor to help you successfully navigate through the world of finances can be extremely valuable. Most of us do not have the time, specialized education, or experience that trained financial advisors do. So how do you find the right advisor for you?
First, take stock of your financial situation and financial knowledge to determine what type of advisor you need. For example, someone with a great deal of financial know-how may only need some add-on assistance of a broker for stock selection, where someone with little experience may want the services of a full- fledged financial planner. Others may need specialized services in regards to tax, estate, and insurance matters.
Once you have an idea of what you are looking for, begin your search by asking family and friends who they use as their trusted advisor. Find out how often they meet, what services their provider offers, and how much value they feel they are getting from the relationship. You should be able to get a few good names from these sources.
Next, check out national associations, such as the Financial Planning Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Cross reference to see if the names on your recommended advisors list are on these lists and also obtain a few additional names for those in your area. Go to the web sites of the advisors and read through their information. Most sites will explain all of the services available and how to begin a relationship.
In addition, the history, experience, and background of the firm and its employees are usually attainable online. You can also do a check of the advisors on the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency’s (FINRA) Broker Check or the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) IARD.
Meet with a few advisors in person. This will help determine if your personalities match, enable you to get all of your questions answered, and know what fees or other costs are involved. Determine if the advisor has any vested interest in selling or recommending certain actions or investments. If commissions are charged, understand how they are computed.
A Registered Investment Advisor is required to give you a copy of their ADV Part 2 which explains in writing how your relationship will work, investment strategies employed, and any disciplinary action taken against the firm. RIA’s are considered fiduciaries and must treat all clients fairly and always consider the client’s interest in front of their own.
If the advisor is a Certified Financial Planner®, they will explain how the planning process works and walk you through the written planning agreement. CFP®’s are subject to rules and integrity regulations of the Financial Planning Board.
With the right amount of effort and due diligence on your part, you can select and work with an excellent advisor. Such a relationship should prove to be rewarding not only financially, but also personally as it grows into one of mutual trust and appreciation.