Congratulations. You have finally decided it’s time to meet with a financial advisor.
You’ve entered their office. You’re sitting in front of them.
Meeting with an advisor can feel overwhelming. Talking about money can be difficult because we are conditioned to believe money and finances are a private matter. But since we’ve been told from the cradle that we shouldn’t talk about money, we don’t know how to ask questions, much less the right questions to ask.
So, when we finally work up the courage to talk to an advisor, we don’t know where to begin.
Here are five simple questions to help you get started.
1. Are you a fiduciary? What is fiduciary? Why is that important?
A fiduciary is someone that must put their clients’ interest ahead of their own. A fiduciary has a legal obligation to act in your best interest. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner, I am bound to act as a fiduciary for my clients when it comes to managing their money.
So, what does all of this mean? It is my obligation to seek financial solutions that work for them. That means not selecting products based on high commissions that might be in an advisor’s interest.
2. How are you paid?
How someone gets paid (and who pays them) can be very telling indicator. There needs to be transparency about how you pay any trusted professional.
When a client asks me how I get paid, I explain that I am a fee-only advisor. This means that I am paid a fee, based upon the amount of assets that I manage on their behalf, or a flat fee.
Why is this important? Well, as a fiduciary, I am product agnostic. I am not here to sell you a product. I am here to find solutions that work in your best interest.
3. What are your qualifications?
Financial advisors are proud of their credentials. It is important to learn which designations and certifications mean the most to you and your financial situation.
Each of these designations come with their own requirements and distinguish a unique specialty that different advisors have. I am proud to be a CFP® professional because not only did it require testing, but also requires continuing education after you earn the certification while at the same time making up only 28% of all financial advisors as of 2020*.
I am also very proud of my 10 years of industry experience. Experience is always a powerful validator.
4. I already have a CPA and an estate attorney, why do I need you?
This is my favorite question to hear from a potential client.
The truth is most clients we work with already have relationships with other trusted advisors.
I really do believe that my job is all about coordination. Clients deserve a financial quarterback that is sitting on the same side of the table as them.
Having financial work done and having it done well and in a concerted and strategic manner can mean the difference between reaching your goals and falling short.
At the end of the day, you deserve a team of experts in your corner.
5. How do I get started?
Developing a financial plan can feel overwhelming that is why we have developed a process to develop a financial strategy for long-term success for each of our clients.
From the first meeting, we establish a confidential rapport with our clients. We find out about their other trusted advisors, and we work to build a cohesive and coordinated strategy for success.
We begin by asking a lot of questions. We want to learn about our clients’ financial lives, their goals and discover how we can help. I want to learn about their family, their job, what they do for fun, and what their long-term plans are.
Yes, developing a financial strategy is about data, but its also about understanding clients as people.
The average person goes to a financial professional when their life has reached a financial crossroad. But the truth is, the best clients come to us before life reaches that crossroad.
It is time to avoid the scramble. Contact a financial advisor and ask the right questions.