Most people would agree that finding a good financial advisor is pretty important. Sound financial advice can make big differences in your financial future. It can be the difference between financial freedom and just making ends meet; or the difference between early retirement and working in the golden years; or maybe the difference between peace of mind and financial disaster. Unfortunately, finding a good financial advisor can also be extremely difficult. Here are five simple tips to help you find good professional advice.
- Be prepared. Start with knowing what you want and don’t want from an advisor. Everyone is at different financial stages of life. Some people need financial advisors to help with life insurance because they have young families. Others need investment advice for their sizeable portfolios. Some want to create retirement income in their golden years. Whatever the case may be, you can’t get proper help without being able to articulate what you are looking for.
- Get a referral. There are thousands of advisors in your area. Picking an advisor from the yellow pages is like finding a needle in a haystack. In most cases, it’s hit and miss strategy. The better way to find an advisor is through word of mouth. If you want a great advisor, ask your friends and family if they are dealing with a great advisor. If you manage to get a good referral, be sure to ask why they think their advisor is great. This question may be more important than the first because it will provide some details and insights as to what makes the advisor special and different.
- Interview multiple advisors. Even if you get a good referral to a great advisor, how do you know if that advisor is right for you? Increasing your chances of finding the right advisor requires meeting and talking to more than one advisor. You should never feel obligated to deal with the first advisor your interview. It’s better to interview multiple advisors because it allows you to compare strengths and weaknesses of different professionals. Interviewing is like research. The more you do, the more likely you are to make better decisions. I suggest interviewing three advisors.
- Recognize that there are generalists and specialist. The term financial advisor is too generic these days. Many financial advisors will tell you that can sell you anything from life insurance to mutual funds. Their services extend from basic financial planning to investment management to retirement planning or estate planning. One stop shopping with a generalist has some advantages but recognize there are times when you should be dealing with experts. If you are looking to invest in some mutual funds, wouldn’t it make sense to talk to a financial advisor that really understands investing as opposed to someone who specializes in insurance and estate planning? Don’t be afraid to ask financial advisor what they are good at. In fact, you should ask if they have a specialization.
- Focus on the person and not the company. Far too often, I hear people deal with a company like a bank as opposed to an advisor. Every company has good advisors and bad advisors. That’s just the law of averages. Most advisors will change companies from time to time. Staying loyal to a company may mean changing relationships from time to time because your advisor changes. Sometimes you may luck out and get one of the good reps. Other times, you may not be so lucky. It is more important to find someone you can develop a long term relationship with regardless of what company they work for. It’s better to have a relationship with a person than a company.
Finding the right advisor might be hard work but it is worth it.