You can’t choose your family…. but you can choose your financial advisor. Deciding on a financial advisor can be a difficult decision, and many don’t know where to start. A good place to start may be to ask your friends and family whom they go to – those are the people that know you the best and may be able to make a recommendation. Another great place to start is asking for a referral from an advisor that you already know and trust, your attorney or accountant. They have an awareness of your situation, and what services you may need, and which professional may be best suited to assist you.
There are many different factors to consider when choosing a financial advisor; here are a few important things to consider when making your decision.
Integrity – Look for a fiduciary
This is one of the most important aspects to consider. You want to look for someone who is a fiduciary – this means that they are legally bound to act in your best interest, and provide advice that fits your needs. While all advisors follow a suitability standard, which means that they are legally bound to make sure that your investments are suitable for you, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are your best option. This point is critical, and in our opinion should be a deal breaker if a prospective advisor is not a fiduciary.
What services do they provide?
It is important to make sure that your advisor’s services match your needs and that if you happen to need additional services, that they will assist you in coordinating all those services. Some advisors provide advice on specific areas as they come up, and others develop a holistic approach – looking at your entire financial picture, not just one aspect or another. If possible, you’ll want to choose an advisor that has a complete understanding of tax and estate planning in addition to investment management, to help you with the big picture.
What formal education have they had? How many years of experience do they have? Do they have any professional certifications, licenses, or designations? Choosing to further their education through a designation program shows that the advisor values continuous personal growth, and is motivated to provide clients with the best possible advice. If you need planning services, consider choosing a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. The CFP® certification comes with extensive training in financial planning, estate planning, insurance, investments, taxes, employee benefits, and retirement planning; only 20%*1 of all financial advisors in the industry can claim this distinction.
Choose someone who is a good listener and takes time to fully explain things without using investment jargon. The best advisors are able to understand you and how you communicate best, and make their recommendations accordingly. It is important that you understand the advice that you are being given.
Will you work with just the advisor, or is there a team available to you to answer any questions you may have? A team approach may be valuable in that if your advisor is out of the office or busy with appointments, there are still people to help you that are familiar with your accounts. Will you have access to other knowledgeable professionals? No one, however well trained, has the all-encompassing knowledge required to deal in depth with all the problems that can affect an individual’s financial affairs. It is crucial to make sure that your advisor has access to multiple professionals in a variety of fields.
Ultimately, you want to choose someone who meets all of the above criteria, but is also someone that you feel comfortable with. Just like all of the other important relationships in your life, it is important that you trust the person you choose and they understand your goals and dreams.
This information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Opinions expressed are those of the advisors at Sweet Financial Services and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. Every individual’s situation is unique, additional factors and circumstances may need to be taken into account when looking for a financial professional. There is no assurance that working with a financial professional will provide a favorable outcome. Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. does not provide advice on tax, legal, or mortgage issues. These matters should be discussed with the appropriate professional. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.