Choosing a professional to help you invest for your future is right up there with the top decisions you'll make in life. Read through the following to help determine if you're choosing the right person to help you achieve your goals.
Let's talk about you first:
Does the financial advisor ask about you and your goals – and listen to your answers? Does he or she use a lot of industry jargon? Good financial advisors want their clients to be educated investors, so they explain topics, ask questions and listen so they can better create a tailored financial strategy.
Is he or she available when it's convenient for you, whether that's weekdays, evenings or weekends? Will you be able to view your information online? How often will you be able to talk with the financial advisor? Decide if the answers work with your schedule.
Some investors like to be very hands-on; others like to turn over the decision making to professionals. Be sure the financial advisor you're considering supports the way you'd like to work together.
The answer is important, especially if you're a business owner or creating a strategy for your estate. And even if you don't need to work with other professionals now, you may in the future.
Let's talk about the financial advisor:
At a minimum, a financial advisor must meet the requirements to sell securities. You can easily verify this by using the financial industry's BrokerCheck at www.FINRA.org.
Find out if the financial advisor favors one style of investing or a particular type of investment. Certain styles and investments may be well-suited for some investors but inappropriate for others. If you believe the financial advisor has a one-size-fits-all approach, you may want to look elsewhere.
The answer will help you learn what the financial advisor values. Ask yourself if what he or she values aligns with your values as an investor. You probably want the answer to include "helping investors reach their goals."
Don't rule out a financial advisor with a limited amount of experience. A new financial advisor frequently brings a great deal of enthusiasm to his or her work. Also consider if the financial advisor is backed by the resources of an established firm.
Prior to your meeting, you can do your own research online. And then during your meeting, you can dig deeper to get your questions answered.
Some financial advisors provide comprehensive financial strategies for retirement, education, estate and insurance considerations. Other financial advisors only focus on investment advice. Make sure your financial advisor can handle your needs now and in the future.
The financial advisor should be able to speak clearly and honestly about fees. Is he or she paid a commission based on each transaction? Or is the financial advisor paid a percentage based on your account's balance? If you don't understand his or her fees, keep asking until you do.
Choosing the right financial advisor is the first step in working toward your financial goals. Get the important questions answered so you can feel comfortable choosing.