One often overlooked topic in financial planning are the expectations you should have for your financial advisor. So we are going to dive in! Whether you are already working with somebody or you are interviewing, keep these points top of mind.
I should also be held to these same standards with my own clients:
- Do they hear you? Are they asking you good questions? Are they probing to understand what your goals are? What are your dreams? When they get the answers to these questions (if they’re even asking them), those answers should then drive their financial planning recommendations for you.
- How are they compensated? Do they receive commissions for the products they sell? Do they receive fees for their advice and investment management? Is it a combination of the two? This should be very clear at the beginning of the relationship, and also if there are ongoing fees. If they don’t disclose this information, it is your job to ask how they are compensated. For example, I mainly provide fee-based financial planning, and people pay me for my advice. If I sell an insurance product for them that fits into their customized financial plan, I also receive a commission for that insurance. Albeit a small part of my practice, I should still be disclosing this.
- What is their disciplinary history? Now, you don't have to ask them this directly, but you can look online at their https://brokercheck.finra.org/. All disciplinary history is public as the financial industry is highly regulated. Some examples of poor conduct that advisors are disciplined for include: not disclosing fees, unsuitable product recommendations, money laundering, not reporting client complaints, etc. When an advisor is subject to discipline or probation, all that information will show up on their Broker Check and U4.
- What are their platforms? Are they captive, meaning they only can operate on one platform and can only offer one company's product? If yes, that's okay. But you should know that and determine whether you are comfortable with their arrangement. Or are they independent? I am an independent financial advisor. I can offer products from any company and I’m not limited. There are also advisors that have a hybrid relationship where they work with a company that prefers that they sell their products, but they can sell other products too.
- Do they ask for feedback and include you in the process? Are they trying to improve upon your customer experience? Remember, YOU are their client; it is important to know how YOU feel about the relationship. If it’s not a good fit, that's okay -- you can always find another advisor that is more your style.
When you are looking to hire a financial advisor, it is important to interview to make sure that you are comfortable with their business model, their values and how they drive their practice. This is your money that they will be handling and should not be a lighthearted decision. Confidence and trust are foundational.
BONUS POINT! Do they provide holistic financial planning? Insurance by itself is good and important; wealth management is good and important. But is your advisor focusing on all areas of your financial life, or is it siloed and focused on one aspect in particular? I personally would not want to work with a financial advisor that's only focused on one area of my financial picture; I want all areas covered and that's what holistic financial planning is.
Let me know if you have specific questions about your financial situation or advisor. I am here to create a financial plan customized to your values.
Watch Now on WWG YouTube Channel Expectations
Listen Now on WWG Podcast Expectations