When it comes to money, it often takes a team to help you manage it correctly, particularly once you start working full-time, saving for retirement and starting a family. Financial planning can be difficult to navigate and is often time consuming. One way to help navigate the terrain of financial planning and creating the financial freedom you want in your life, is to work with a financial advisor. While the role of financial advisors vary, their assistance can be very helpful when it comes to investing, retirement planning, tax information and more. There are numerous types of financial advisors and their professional expertise differs across the board. When considering working with a financial advisor there are some things to consider.
When looking for a financial advisor the first place to start is by asking friends, family, and even colleagues, for referrals. Asking those you trust is a good way to get recommendations for financial advisors who have an already well established reputation. However, this is only a start. Keep in mind that your friends and family may have very different financial goals than you and this may influence how they invest and who they trust with their personal finances. The next step is to do some research.
Donna Fuscaldo of Fox Business recommends doing a Google search of financial advisors names’ you receive as a referral. You will be able to find professional reviews by other customers, as well as, look up the advisor’s professional credentials. There are a number of personal finance credentials, and you want to make sure anyone you hire is credentialed in the areas you are looking for.
For example, a certified financial planner (CFP) is someone who has taken courses in investments, estate law, taxes, and insurance (Fuscaldo, 2013). The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) recommends hiring a CFP, a personal financial specialist, or a chartered financial consultant (Fuscaldo, 2013). You should also check with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Securities and Exchange Committee, to make sure your potential advisor does not have any violations or sanctions against them (Fuscaldo, 2013).
Once you have conducted some research, the next step is to set up an initial interview. There are a number of important questions you should ask any potential financial advisor when first meeting them. The answers to these questions will help determine whether this advisor is right for you. The following is a list of important questions to ask:
- How long have you been a financial advisor?/What is your professional background?
- What credentials, licenses and certifications do you hold?
- How do you charge for your services?
- What is your investment style?
- Could I see an example of a financial plan?
- What type of clients do you work with?
- How regularly do you communicate with clients?
In asking these questions you are looking for some pertinent information. First, you want to make sure the advisor’s stated credentials and background match up with what you found during your prior research. Secondly, you want to find out upfront what charges you will be responsible for. If an advisor receives a charge on each transaction this gives them more incentive to conduct more financial transactions and investments, but it may not be in your best interest.
Lastly, in addition to getting an idea of their financial investment strategies, you also want to get an idea of their communication style. Are they open to questions and willing to communicate with you? Remember this person works for you, and should be able to communicate with you on a regular basis and fully answer questions you may have. Ultimately, a financial advisor is there to help guide you and figure out how to make your money work for you.
Photo Credit: Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc