Your money has finally become too much for you. You get tired of budget planning (or you just can’t stick to it), but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a financial plan.
Fortunately for you, there are people who actually like money management.
Financial advisors are there to help you put together a plan for your hard earned money, but it is still your job to make sure they suit you. When you first meet, you will need to ask the right questions to be able to ensure that your long-term working relationship is positive.
1. What is your background?
A great way to start any conversation is to ask someone to tell you about themselves. When talking to your counselor, it’s good to know him in person. However, you are res they seek information about their background as a consultant.
Ask them some further questions, such as:
- Why did they want to become consultants?
- How long are consultants?
2. What qualifications and certifications do you have to help me advise?
You should never take financial advice without knowing where they are coming from. The term “financial advisor” is not regulated. It is crucial that you do not get a financial plan from an insurance dealer who wants to sell you your entire life insurance policy.
Ask the counselor what qualifications he or she has to advise you. They can mention their higher education, the certificates they have obtained, as well as the licenses they hold to advise you properly and sell investments.
3. How do you view your investment philosophy?
Counselors have different beliefs about how to invest their money to earn a return. Some advisors prefer to give their clients investments in low-cost index funds, which has proven to be very successful.
Others argue that they are trying to beat the market by choosing individual stocks.
It is essential to choose a consultant with an investment philosophy you believe in.
But be careful. Never work with a consultant who represents an investment philosophy that provides a return, or who claims to have years of accomplishment in overcoming the market. Yields are rarely guaranteed, except for a few financial products. It is safe to beat the stock market exceptional also a difficult feat.
4. How do you determine what you recommend me to invest in?
Counselors should help you build a slightly tailored approach to investing your resources to increase your wealth. Nevertheless, multiple clients may have similar goals, so there is a good chance that you will be one of many who will use the same investment strategy.
The key is to ensure that the counselor doesn’t automatically buckle you up and force you to follow this strategy closely. Make sure the counselor is willing to offer flexibility in your approach.
For example, a consultant may suggest an 80% stock / 20% bond mix, but you may feel more comfortable adding a small amount of alternative assets to your strategy. The counselor should be able to explain how this would affect you and make a change if you wish.
5. How will our interactions work?
Setting expectations for a relationship early helps ensure that you are both happy.
You should ask your potential advisor the following:
- How often do they meet with their clients?
- How do these meetings go?
- What is being discussed and how long do they last?
- What happens if you have questions during sessions?
If you understand these basic scenarios and how they will work out in advance, you can ensure that the counselor will be able to adapt to your needs and that you will be satisfied with his or her response.
6. What services do you provide?
Financial advisors can offer a wide range of services. Depending on where you are on your financial path, you may only need a few. If you are longer in your financial life, you may need access to more services than the counselor offers.
MMake sure you know exactly what you are getting by asking the following questions:
- Do you simply pay for investment management?
- Or do you also have access to a comprehensive financial plan and tax planning advice?
7. Are you a fiduciary?
A fiduciary is someone who is required by law to make decisions in the best interests of their clients. Not all financial advisors are fiduciaries. Ideally, it will be yours.
Non-fiduciary advisors can recommend investments and products that are simple suitable.
The difference between investing in your best interest and making a suitable investment can eventually bring in a significant amount of money.
Typically, the relevant investments have higher costs or they can pay consultants commissions for their sale. In these cases, the counselor can get more, but you may end up getting less money in the long run.
8. Are you a fiduciary 100% of the time?
Just because a counselor is a fiduciary doesn’t mean he’s a fiduciary 100% of the time. Therefore, it is essential to understand when your counselor is a fiduciary and not.
They may be a fiduciary when they sell you investments, but they may not be a fiduciary when selling ordered life insurance products. Again, ideally they will be 100% fiduciary.
9. How do I pay you for your services and do you receive money from other companies?
Financial advisors can get compensation in a variety of ways. Some earn commissions by selling life insurance products and mutual funds with a debit commission. These arrangements are less than ideal, but allow advisors to work with investors without a large amount of investment resources.
Other consultants may charge their time on a project basis, annually or hourly. These are called flat rate consultants. In addition, some consultants may charge you a fee for “assets under management”. This is usually a percentage of the funds they manage for you, for example 1%.
Understanding how a consultant is paid and how much he or she earns from your account can help you determine if the cost is worth the advice. It also allows you to assess whether there is a potential conflict of interest.
10. Do I have to pay any other costs?
You need to understand if there are any other costs you have to pay when working with a counselor. If they submit your taxes to a CPA, you may have to pay that CPA to prepare your return. The consultant administrator may charge you a paper statement fee instead of digital email statements.
If you ask this question, make sure you know all the potential costs you may have to pay before you apply to work with a counselor.
11. Who owns my property?
The counselor should inform you that they are using a trustee – a company that physically keeps your money and assets – and the name of the trustee.
Find a trustee and make sure it is a legitimate company, and check to see if any complaints have been filed against them after you have finished meeting with the counselor.
12. What are your goals as a consultant?
Some counselors like to help people with their money and will continue to manage the funds until they can no longer work. Others look at the industry as a business, which it is. These consultants can build their business to a certain size and then sell their business to another consultant to retire.
Because working with a counselor is a long-term relationship, you need to know the counselor’s plans. Will they retire in front of you by looking for a new counselor? Or will they be present long enough to help you achieve your long-term financial goals to the end?
Counselors may not always be available. They can retire, sell their business, or even be temporarily unavailable on vacation.
Ask your potential advisor how he or she intends to handle these situations so you can make sure you are happy with the answers before you start investing with them.
Don’t stop interviewing after a job
You may feel like your job is done when you did the interview and hired a consultant. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Continue to re-evaluate the relationship
Some counselors may do well in an interview, but they don’t live up to your expectations when you hire them. It’s easy to tell a potential customer things, but sometimes it’s harder to keep those promises.
Continue to monitor and re-evaluate the relationship to make sure the counselor meets everything he or she has said and your standards for the entire relationship.
Make adjustments as needed
If a counselor doesn’t meet your standards, don’t give it up right away unless it’s a serious problem. Communicate with your counselor and see if the situation can be corrected if the problem is not serious, such as a lack of funds or you are lying stupidly.
The counselor may not address your concerns in a way that you find acceptable. In this case, it’s time to find a new advisor and move your money.
Finding a financial advisor
There are several ways to find potential interview counselors:
- Search for databases like Paladin register.
- Google Financial Advisors.
- Ask trusted friends for recommendations.
- Respond to ads submitted by consultants.
- Check with intermediary companies in banking institutions with whom you are already doing business.
Look into their background before the interview
When looking for a counselor, it is essential to examine his background before talking to him.
First time, check all credentials the counselor says they have. If they say they are a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), look them up at CFP website to make sure that CFPs are still active.
You want it too check to see if brokers have any harmful actions against them. You can do this by looking for the name of the broker at BrokerCheck. This is a website run by FINRA, which is the organization that governs the member stockbroking companies.
Until the counselor’s background is checked and there are no significant red flags, you can request an interview to move on to the next part of the counselor selection process.
Interviewing a financial advisor is not difficult if you know what questions to ask and what to look for. Use the list of questions above to start the conversation.
If new questions arise during the interview with the counselor, ask them. When you have finished talking to at least a few advisors, choose the one that suits you best and start building your financial plan and wealth with them.