What to look for in a Financial Advisor

Sheldon Morgan Botes Financial Advisor - Website Article - What to look for in a financial advisor

Introduction

A financial advisor is someone you appoint to help you manage your money better and secure your financial future.  It needs to be someone you can trust, someone you know has your best interests at heart and who you can turn to if you have a problem.  Like any big decision, you should probably do your homework before committing because not every financial advisor will suit every client.  To help you out, I have prepared a few things that you need to consider when choosing a financial advisor.

1. Credentials

Remember a financial advisor is someone whose job it is to give you advice about your money.  Would you trust someone with no real world experience and/or qualifications? Although qualifications, such as a CFP or CFA qualification would be prime, a degree in economics, finance, strategic management, and law will most certainly be beneficial when selecting an advisor to advise you.  An advisor needs grit and determination and extensive knowledge of economics, finance, and business to succeed in the industry, long-term.  So, when selecting an advisor, make sure you choose someone whose credentials are able to meet your requirements.

2. Charges

Spend time understanding how the financial advisor charges his or her fees out. With investments some advisers choose large up-front advice fees and little to none ongoing, others will charge less upfront advice fee and then a nominal percentage of the fund value over the duration of the investment. The charges are negotiable and are not set in stone and are worth noting.

3. Financial Planning Proposal

Because your financial advisor’s job is to advise, they should be able to propose to you some sort of financial plan to help give you a clear indication of the direction in which you are heading.  Ask your financial advisor for a typical example of the financial plan you could expect from them.  The plan must be understandable and thorough.  Personally, I look for consistency of small things like font, and wording.  If an advisor takes care with these small details you can be assured, they are meticulous.

4. Specialty

As I stated earlier, not all financial advisors are the same.  Each financial advisor has different focus points and specialties.  You, as the client, need to identify whether you feel your potential advisor can get the job done for you based on their skill set.  Some advisors focus almost solely on risk planning while others are more investment specialists.

5. Success

How does your potential advisor measure his or her success? Is it solely on their earnings? Or rather on their clients’ growth? Be aware of this as it will indicate clearly whether the advisor has your best interests at heart.  Like I have mentioned before, the advisor does need and want to make money – but this must not be at the expense of your investment portfolio value.

6. Contact

What a lot of people don’t realise is that your advisor is required to meet with you annually and people often don’t hold their advisors accountable when they are under delivering.  Who is your advisor really looking after if they don’t make the effort to see you at least once a year?  Don’t be afraid to ask how often and what type of contact the potential advisor has with his or her clients.   Another thing you need to ask is whether you will be working with just the advisor or whether it will be a whole team.  If it is with a whole team, I would suggest asking to meet the team so you know who to approach should you have any issues.

7. Incapacitated

In the unfortunate event that you are completely incapacitated, what do you think your advisor will do? Is there a plan of action? It is a good idea for your advisor to have a list of your loved ones who you want to be contacted.  Your financial advisor should have a vested interest in you and your family.  Would they be someone you could invite to meet your loved ones to show you are serious about protecting your future, even when you are no longer around?

8. Succession Plan

A financial advisor’s job is to look after you and your financial future.  Ask the question of whether your advisor has a succession plan if he or she is no longer in the industry or if is left incapacitated or passes away? After all, if the advisor cannot plan for when he is no longer around, then how can he plan for your future in the case you are no longer around.

Conclusion

A financial advisor can really give you peace of mind when it comes to managing your finances.  They can help ensure that your financial strategy is continuously aligned with your financial goals and needs.  Ultimately, when choosing an advisor, ask yourself whether they are someone who you can trust?  And, someone who you can build a long-term relationship with?

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