If you’ve read our previous articles on LinkedIn, you know we love to get started with our clients while they are in their 30s and 40s because we can help them develop great habits around money and methodically build wealth over time. But let’s face it - most people don’t seek out a financial planner/advisor until something has gotten really complicated in their financial life or they have decided that they need to make some immediate changes around money. Whatever your reasons, we would like to help you find the right financial advisor for your situation.
1. Go swimming where there are no sharks in the water. Select an advisor who offers fee-only fiduciary services.
Finding the right financial advice can be really confusing. The big players in the financial services industry have massive advertising budgets designed to blur the line between sales and advice. When they successfully killed the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule in July of this year, there remained two distinct standards for client care hidden behind all the legalese: fiduciary and suitability. A fiduciary is bound by the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 to put their clients’ interests above their own and have a duty of loyalty and care whereas broker/dealers only have to make recommendations that are suitable to their customer. Fiduciaries are found at Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) firms. Two organizations that require all of their members to be fee-only fiduciaries are the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the XY Planning Network (XYPN). Collectively, they give you more than 3,750 advisors from which to choose. Start your swim here where there are no sharks.
2. Fit is First
The members of NAPFA and XYPN are Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) practitioners. That means they have the technical skills, knowledge, and experience to provide a wide-range of advice in diverse areas such as investments, retirement, taxes, insurance, and estate planning. Now that credentials are out of the way, we want you to check out multiple RIA firm websites to learn about their philosophy, fees and hopefully why they are in the business of financial advice. After narrowing your search, we think you should interview 2-4 advisors to find the person that makes you, and your spouse if you are married, most comfortable. If it is a good fit, you should feel excited after the first conversation. You must be willing to open up to this person to articulate your unspoken fears and share your dreams about money. Good listening from the advisor is paramount and so is a genuine interest in your life and financial situation. Someone that is familiar with the unique issues you are facing (college funding, aging parents, worldwide relocations) can also be an important bond. If you are truly looking for a long-term financial ally in your life, take the time to find the best fit, no matter how long it takes.
3. They Will Meet You Where You Are (Convenience)
If you are going to move/relocate every few years, you want to find an advisor that can work with you virtually and across time zones. (Note: all the advisors in the XYPN are equipped for virtual meetings.) You will also want to find an advisor that has hours that are convenient for you, not just the advisor. That means your advisor should have some appointments after normal work hours and on the weekend to accommodate your busy life.
4. Easy to Use Technology
If you want to work with your advisor over the length of your career and into retirement, no matter where you are in the world or in the United States, make sure you understand and are comfortable with his/her technology stack. The advisor should offer a secure, encrypted means to pass sensitive information. Video conferencing, online scheduling, digital signatures, digital account opening and screen-sharing are all important. Don’t hesitate to ask to see their financial planning software or a sample of their comprehensive financial plan.
5. Easy to Understand
Finally, make sure your advisor is a great communicator and educator. He/she should be able to take complex subjects and explain them in terms that you and your partner (if relevant) understand, regardless of who normally handles the finances. The advisor should be transparent and open about his/her own shortcomings around money and able to explain his/her fees and investment philosophy in simple terms. Finally, you should feel comfortable asking any question about money and expect a thoughtful, patient and thorough answer.
We personally know dozens of incredible financial planners that are doing amazing work for their clients. It is your job to go out there and find the best one for you!
As a former Foreign Service Officer and Air Force pilot, I’m passionate about continuing to serve those in government and the military. Our services and publications are designed for individuals and families in these communities. Follow me – Chris Cortese - on LinkedIn so you can continue to benefit from our expertise.
Chris Cortese, Financial Planner & Founder - Logbook Financial Planning, LLC
“Investment advisory services are offered through Logbook Financial Planning, LLC, a Licensed Investment Adviser in the state of Maine and Registered Investment Adviser in the state of Virginia” “All written content is for information purposes only. It is not intended to provide any tax or legal advice or provide the basis for any financial decisions.” “Logbook Financial Planning, LLC is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.”