You’d think before they hand a large sum of money over to a financial advisor, wealthy investors would check out and interview a number of candidates to handle their life savings. However, a new study shows you’d be wrong. Consider working with a financial advisor for expert advice on managing assets and creating or updating a financial plan.
What the Survey Found
The Dynasty Connect survey polled 1,000 high-net-worth respondents, all working with a financial advisor and each with a minimum of $500,000 in investable assets, with a 3.1% margin of error.
According to the survey, 57% handed their nest eggs to the first planner they interviewed. Instead of shopping around, they decided not to personally evaluate other advisors.
“It’s an extraordinary finding that high-net worth families are selecting the first and only advisor they speak with, said Dynasty Financial Partners CEO Shirl Penney. “It’s like buying the very first house you look at.”
The result of failing to shop around for an adviser is that 61% of respondents under the age of 45 changed advisors. After working with one adviser, they ended up “looking for a different/specific expertise,” according to the survey. The result can be wasted time and energy, and disappointing investment results.
How to Find a Financial Advisor
Financial experts recommend interviewing several candidates when considering using an investment advisor before handing over control of money than can represent a lifetime of working and saving. They recommend checking to see if the advisor is a registered professional and asking questions about experience and credentials, types of investment they offer, what fees they charge, whether they receive commissions from the investment products they sell and if they have a disciplinary history with a government regulator or had customer complaints.
Investors also should understand what kind of investment professional they’re dealing with, as well as making sure they understand any professional memberships and designations. A certified financial planner (CFP), for example, must pass a rigorous exam and adhere to a code of ethics as well as disciplinary review from a board of professionals. A chartered financial analyst (CFA) designation is even harder to earn. In fact, there are more than 100 investment credentials available that offer an alphabet soup of initialed designations that can be purchased after passing a simple test or earned at a single weekend seminar.
Checking Credentials of Prospective Financial Advisors
Investors can look up a potential advisor’s credentials using the Professional Designations page at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) website. FINRA is a private corporation approved by Congress to act as a self-regulatory organization that oversees brokerage firms.
They can also check the background of financial professionals at Investor.gov and find information on state-licensed advisors at the website of the North American Securities Administrators Association. You can find additional information about vetting advisers, including a suggested list of questions, at the SEC.gov website and from AARP.org.
When it comes to word-of-mouth recommendations, investors still need to conduct additional due diligence. The Dynasty Connect Survey found that when seeking a new advisor, 46% of respondents were referred by “a friend, family member or colleague,” while respondents 45 and younger were likely to find an advisor through online searches, social media, blogs or other online sources.
Many people start looking for a financial adviser after a life change, such as receiving an inheritance, changing jobs, starting a family or dealing with a serious health matter. Despite the sense of urgency around those events, investors should take the time to thoroughly review more than one advisor before making a final call.
Tips for Finding a Financial Advisor
- Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have free introductory calls with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- For more tips on how to find a financial advisor that you’re comfortable with, check out SmartAsset’s guide here.
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