What to Look for in a Financial Advisor
Consumers surveyed say top advisor attributes include knowledge,
experience and objective advice
By Maryann Ruck of Integrated Wealth Strategies
When you’ve decided to invest in your financial future, choosing the right financial advisor should be given significant consideration. After all, this is someone you’re going to entrust with your finances and the fate of your financial future.
Finding a trusted advisor is a worthwhile endeavor. People who have professional guidance when it comes to their finances are well positioned to make informed financial decisions: decisions that have the potential to improve their investment outcomes and financial security for years to come.
To find the best advisor for your needs, do your due diligence to compare important key qualities. According to consumers surveyed in the Financial Consumer-Advisor Study1, the most valued advisor attributes include trustworthiness, experience, knowledge, objective advice and client focus.
Start with referrals, then check credentials
An easy place to start your search is by asking friends or family for referrals. They can let you know whether or not a particular advisor is trustworthy as well as if the advisor is client-focused. Today’s investor should consider an advisor who goes beyond managing their investment portfolio and planning their secure retirement, and really takes the time to understand their unique and evolving financial needs. Will they listen to you and understand your risk tolerance? Are they interested in identifying your goals so they can help to customize a plan to suit those needs? Those are important considerations to enable you work toward the results you seek. An easy way to uncover those answers is by getting to know an advisor’s philosophy on working with clients. Check the advisor’s website, other marketing materials or have a discussion with him or her directly.
But the personal aspect is just one part of the equation. Your search should take you even deeper. Knowing advisors' qualifications and credentials can help to gauge if they are knowledgeable and trustworthy. Some questions to consider include: What is their educational background? Does it include a bachelor’s or master’s degree? How long has he or she been working in the field, and if not for very long, does the advisor have access to partners or associates who can support them and you at a deeper level?
In addition, professional designations will demonstrate that an advisor has completed specialized financial education that can separate them from their peers. Look for professional certifications including Certified Financial PlannerTM practitioner, Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC).
Gaining trust with an advisor is one of the most important components to a good advisor-client relationship. Some of that comes with the day to day work you will do over the life of your relationship, but you can also develop a level of trust at the outset by looking into their background. You can search an advisory’s regulatory records through Broker Check provided by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.) or consider contacting an association that the advisor is a member of, such as the Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards or the CFA Institute, to learn more about them.
The value of independent advice
Once you’ve found a well-credentialed advisor, the next step is to ensure that he or she will provide financial advice that is in your best interest. One option to consider is an advisor that is supported by an independent broker/dealer. Since he or she often does not have an obligation to sell proprietary products, the advisor is able to select from a broad range of investment options to address their clients’ needs. The advisor’s investment recommendations can offer investors access to a more diversified portfolio of assets – which can help impact stronger investment performance. And 49 percent of consumers surveyed in the Financial Consumer-Advisor Study1 said that increasing return on investment (ROI) is a top objective.
Investing some time to find the right financial advisor can have a healthy payoff. In the end, you’ll have a trusted partner who can help to reduce your financial stress, offer objective investment advice – and put you on the path to pursue a more secure financial future.
1Financial Consumer-Advisor Survey, SourceMedia Research 2015
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
Maryann Ruck is a registered investment advisor. Member FINRA & SIPC. Securities and Advisory services offered through LPL Financial She can be reached at 303-927-7201
This material was prepared for Maryann Ruck’s use.