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Finding a Financial Advisor

Finding a Financial Advisor

I hesitated for many months before writing this post, I don’t want to be self serving here, I view my posts as an attempt to provide education and guidance to the people who invest their time to consider my thoughts. 

With the disclaimer out of the way, there are many websites which will give you excellent questions and criteria to help you interview and select an advisor.  The intent of this post is to help you decide if you need an advisor and how you can generate a list of candidates. 

So through my career here are a few of the more common questions on this topic, that I have been asked:

When should I seek the guidance of a financial advisor?

When you feel uncomfortable about making a decision, when you feel that you want a second opinion on a particular issue or you want a complete review of you financial situation.  Many people think there is a magic number where they should request professional assistance.  I have met people who sought my assistance who have $2M or more and met other people who had less than $25K.  My conclusion over a time period  was different people have different comfort levels when it comes to managing their finances and will seek assistance at different times.

How can I find someone to help me with ………?

Think about ………., what type of professional typically works with people on that issue? For your wills and trusts, visit with an estate planning attorney.  Need help with your life insurance coverage, an insurance agent is the answer.  Not sure about your 401(k) plan, then an investment broker, a financial planner, even your tax professional may provide assistance.  Time to refinance the home, visit with a mortgage broker, tax professional or financial planner.

Great, now I know the type of professional I need, where do I find them?

Well, you have some great referral sources at your fingertips:

  • Speak with your neighbors, family members and co-workers about professionals they have engaged.
  • Speak with some of your current advisors.  Do you have a tax professional, a life insurance agent, a mortgage broker that you have done business with? Ask them for referrals.  Many professionals, such as those mentioned, refer their clients to other professionals.
  • Visit the Human Resources (HR) department at your place of employment.  Many major Corporations have an employee benefit called Employee Assistance Programs (EAP).  Many times, these EAPs will provide referrals to local financial and legal advisors.
  • There are many, many online associations of different professionals.  Search the internet for the appropriate type of individual.

In closing this post, the last tip I would like to offer is to look for three key characteristics in your professional advisor:

  1. Competency in the area where you require assistance.
  2. Confidentiality and  trust. Is the advisor trustworthy? You will tell your advisor many personal details, that you would not share with a close friend or family member.
  3. Communications. Does the advisor have excellent bi-directional communication skills? That is, do they speak at a level that you comprehend and are comfortable with? And, do they listen and comprehend what you are telling them?

Choosing an advisor is a personalized decision that merits your careful evaluation.  Thank you for considering these tips.