The decision to work with a financial advisor is a positive step forward to reaching your full potential both financially as well as your life in general. Major life events such as retirement, marriage, having a child or buying a home can feel overwhelming but the right advisor can help guide you through life’s ups and downs and help protect and grow your assets to bring you closer to your financial goals.
You want your best interests to be the driving force behind all your advisor’s decisions. Registered Independent Advisors (RIA) have a fiduciary duty to put their clients first and are “Fee-only” advisors who receive compensation directly from their clients based upon a percentage of assets managed or a fixed or hourly fee which is decided upon at the beginning of the relationship between client and advisor. This form of compensation allows the advisor to be objective and independent in their recommendations to clients. Always make sure to review the firm’s online filing with the SEC (called a Form ADV) to ensure your interests are aligned.
It is important to know that the advisor who’s protecting and growing your assets has enough experience to navigate complex and sometimes volatile financial landscapes. Questions to ask include how long an advisory firm has been in business, how they have reacted to historical periods of market volatility (such as the “Tech Wreck” or the Financial Crisis in 2008), and whether or not advisors invest alongside their clients. Ask about the firm’s investment experience and style, including whether they are limited to just stocks and bonds or if they can customize portfolios and look at different alternative investments.
Your advisor should take the time to understand both your financial and life goals and get to know you as a whole person to understand how to guide you in the right direction. In addition to handling your investments, ask if the advisor will work with your accountant, estate planning attorney or other professionals to make sure your financial strategy is being understood across the board. Also find out if the advisor will work with you on other planning areas that are important to you, such as charity giving, education and other major life events such as divorce or buying a home.