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Whether it’s the new year, the unusually long bull market, or just because it’s been on the back of your mind for too long, you may be thinking about working with a financial advisor. But, what exactly is a financial advisor, how can they help and how do you choose? You’re not alone in thinking that the professional title is a bit broad and vague. The word “finance” can mean so many things and exactly what is advised on can vary from firm to firm. Our best advice is to first think about what money matter(s) you would like help with, then read our tips below and begin your thoughtful search.
What is a financial advisor? A financial advisor is a professional who helps individuals manage their finances by providing advice on money issues, such as budgeting, investments, insurance, debt, college savings, estate planning, taxes, retirement planning, etc.
Who needs a financial advisor? Every adult! No matter how much money you have, there are financial aspects of your life that will benefit from the help of a financial advisor. At a young age, the initial conversations will likely be centered on starting an emergency fund, investing in your company’s 401(k), and taking advantage of compounding growth. As you get older, the conversations will shift to insurance needs, saving for college, and retirement planning.
How Do I Choose? Before searching for an advisor, know your personal deal breakers. What do you want, need, or expect from this professional? Then, start by asking friends and family for recommendations. Peruse the advisor’s website to scope out the services he or she offers, get a feel for the approach and go in for a meeting to see if the advisor is a good fit (the first visit should be complimentary). In your initial meeting, we recommend asking a few key questions:
- What services do you provide? Investment advice, financial and retirement planning, insurance, others?
- Does your regulatory body hold you and your firm to the Fiduciary Standard of Care?
- What can I expect to pay in fees and/or commissions?
- What reputable third-party custodian(s) do you use for accounts?