Nobody's perfect with their personal finances, there are certain moments in life where you really wish you got it right. Here are those 10 times in life you know you could have really used a financial advisor.
Whether you're on the other side of these financial decisions or you have yet to go through a handful of them, sit back and absorb the wisdom that comes from experience. There are times in each of our lives that having the expertise of someone a bit more experienced on these financial matters could have been extremely helpful.
10 Times You Know You Could Have Used a Financial Advisor
With so many financial advisors offering similar services, what sort of expectations should you have?
There are many reasons why millions of people seek the advice of a financial advisor. Maybe you want to create a budget or begin investing. Maybe you’re ready to start a retirement plan. No matter your reasons, a financial advisor is ready to offer advice and lead you through a thoughtful process toward financial independence.
While you may know the types of services a financial advisor offers, do you really know what to look for in terms of your overall experience?
Here are a few things you should look for in your relationship with a financial advisor:
Working with a financial advisor should be like working with a coach who is preparing you for something very specific and important.
To build a financial plan that will help you reach your goals, your financial advisor needs to first discover what is most important to you. A good financial advisor goes beyond dollars and cents and hopes and dreams. They will carefully weigh your goals with your financial reality. With their expertise, they can steer you towards your goals so that you will be successful without encountering hurdles along the way. It’ easier to know where we want to end up financially, but we just don’t know how to get there. The best financial advisors recognize that it’s not just meeting the big goals at the end, but it’s setting smaller and smarter goals along the way.
Working with a financial advisor should feel like you are progressing in the right direction.
If you aren’t moving closer to your financial goals, than what is the point? It’s for this reason that people seek a financial advisor to help them get focused and clear on what they are trying to accomplish and why. And when it comes to getting the best returns from your investment portfolio, asset management is key. A financial advisor will reallocate, diversify and rebalance your assets as necessary to help create growth in your portfolio in a way that is less risky than investing in equities. The market has the greatest impact on your portfolio, but it is not within your advisor’s control. Actively or passively managing your assets, however, enables your advisor to take advantage of dislocations in the market. .
Objective Financial Advice
Working with a financial advisor should feel like working with a friend who always tells you the truth, even if you don’t want to hear it.
Your advisor will be able to keep you accountable to your financial plan and remind you of your goals. If they observe behaviors that could undo or compromise your financial goals, they will tell you. Just like a good friend has your best interests in mind, so too does your financial advisor. Working with a financial advisor will help you to remain steadfast in your efforts if spending or saving behaviors are necessary for you to reach certain goals. As an objective third party, you can expect that our financial advisor will adequately manage you almost as much as they manage your assets.
Working with a financial advisor should be a fulfilling experience that winds up paying for itself.
If you thought making a financial plan was complicated, think about the tax implications of your plan and investments! Your financial advisor should be well-versed in tax-efficient strategies and help you reduce your exposure to taxes as much as possible (within legal limits!). No one wants to pay more in taxes, or even fees for that matter, than they have to. Therefore, it is worth noting that financial advisors that offer the added value of helping you keep as much of your money as possible is always a good thing.
Working with a financial advisor should be a positive experience. Seek out a great advisor, and your benefits will be greater as they go several steps further to secure your financial health.
It can be somewhat confusing how a financial advisor gets compensated for her time and financial specialty. Aside from perhaps an initial planning fee, the details of what you pay can be murky.
Quality financial advice is worth what you wind up paying for it - even more so when you are navigating through a tough financial decision. A financial advisor can help you decide the best investments to help you reach your goals, how much savings you need in retirement, or contingency plans if something unexpected happens or tragedy strikes.
While the theoretical value of a financial advisor is clear, why is his compensation such gray area?
Most financial advisors do not post their fees on their website. So where do you look to find the answer to this an important question that will not only help you better understand the value a financial advisor will bring to the table, but also help filter out the wrong type of financial advisor for you?
How are financial advisors compensated?
Here are two common ways financial advisors are compensated:
1. Fee-Only Compensation
Fee-only is exactly how it sounds. This type of compensation means that a financial advisor will have fees associated with the services they offer. If you hire a fee-only financial advisor, you may pay a flat fee or an hourly rate for a financial plan.
Also, if you have assets that you want a financial advisor to manage, fee-only advisors typically charge a percentage based on the total amount of money managed. For example, a fee-only advisor may charge a flat fee of 1% of your managed assets annually. Or, fee-only advisors may charge percentage of assets on a tiered schedule, meaning that the percentage they charge is based on a schedule at different asset amounts.
All fee-only advisors charge fees for their services, but how they do so varies from advisor to advisor so it is a good question to ask before you select your financial advisor.
2. Commission-Based Advisors
Just like fee-only compensation is exactly as it sounds – so, too, is commission-based compensation. A commission-based financial advisor is paid when he makes the sale – the sale of financial products, such as certain investment funds or insurances.
I would want to know if my advisor was receiving a commission for the financial advice he or she was recommending to me. It could be a strong indication of bias and you would likely want to consider a financial decision even more carefully to make sure that you are comfortable with any action you are about to take. This is a compensation model so different from the fee-based model that you really won’t find these two compensation methods operating under the same business. Commission-based financial advisors are only paid when they sell "commissionable" products to you, and so you will find them at the larger brokerage houses. They are less likely to be independent or working with a Registered Investment Advisory firm.
This is not to say that they do not provide good financial counsel or that they are not recommending the right products for you that are suitable for you. It just means that their advice is not 100% conflict-free and that is something you should be wholly aware from the very beginning.
3. Fee-Based (not to be confused with fee-only)
Lastly, a hybrid model exists that blends commission-based compensation and fees called “fee-based.” These financial advisors are paid by collecting fees for the services they provide and are collecting commissions off some or all of the financial products they use.
Where to Look for Confirmation
You don’t need to take your financial advisor’s word for it if you have any lingering doubts about how they are compensated after talking with him. All financial advisors are required to file what is called a Form ADV. They are also required to send these to their clients annually and make them available to the public on their website.
The Form ADV has 2 parts
According to the Securities and Exchange Commission: Part 1 requires information about the investment adviser’s business, ownership, clients, employees, business practices, affiliations, and any disciplinary events of the adviser or its employees. Although designed for a regulatory purpose, investment adviser filings of Part 1 are available to the public on the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) website at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. Part 2 requires investment advisers to prepare narrative brochures written in plain English that contain information such as the types of advisory services offered, the adviser’s fee schedule, disciplinary information, conflicts of interest, and the educational and business background of management and key advisory personnel of the adviser. The brochure is the primary disclosure document that investment advisers provide to their clients. When filed, the brochures are available to the public on the IAPD website.
What may be merely suitable in the case of commission-based financial advisors may not be the best choice for you. As a word of advice, select the financial advisor who has your best interests in mind! You can know this plainly when you discover exactly how a financial advisor is paid.
There are people who insist on managing everything themselves, and there are people who allow others to blindly manage everything for them. Where do you lie on the spectrum? Hopefully, somewhere in the middle. When it comes to money management, taking your post as a bookend can lead to trouble. The truth is, the brightest among us are the successful and content who already have a financial advisor. Maybe it appears as if they don’t need one, but guess what, they’re smart enough to have one. Know where you stand. If you’ve got it all figured out on your own, you don’t even know where to begin, or you’re not sure what your money is doing consult an advisor.
Let Go, and Let Your Advisor
So, you’ve identified with your position as a bookend. You have a plan for the future. Your earnings are up. Financial mistakes are at a minimum. You’re managing it all on your own. Why involve an advisor? Much to the dismay of any type-A, life isn’t always fair and the inevitable curve balls will be thrown when you least expect them and, “gasp!” when you’re not prepared. A financial advisor can help keep you grounded with unemotional and impartial guidance. Families don’t always expand on a carefully planned timeline. Your young adult may attend the college or university of their choice, not yours. Job loss, career change, volatile market conditions, and unforeseen health related circumstances can fracture the best of us. A financial advisor will keep you flexing within your plan. While you are busy building your own success within your career, an advisor is working for you by keeping ahead of your finances in a way you can’t.
An Advisor, Your Compass
Life is chugging forward and you’ve been dabbling here and there creating a patchwork plan, which is evidence of your willingness to make wise decisions, but also your lack of time and knowledge to do so independently. Maybe you contribute to a 401K and a 529. You have life insurance and a money market account. You’ve been acquiring some real estate, but you’re not sure of the best way to handle such an investment. As you evaluate everything you’re doing, you wonder if your money is working hard enough for you. An advisor can direct all of your efforts. Effort alone does not guarantee returns. With an advisor educating you along the way, you will maximize what you’ve been doing so far and lay a more defined path forward ensuring stability and security.
At the Starting Line
You’re simply young and not sure where to begin when it comes to managing money and making financial decisions. You may be feeling green, but you are in the best position to benefit from consulting a financial advisor. Time is on your side, and endless opportunities await. It is a lot easier to start out with an advisor’s guidance on what to do with your less than spectacular income as a recent college graduate, than it is to fix costly errors as a parent with two toddlers. Do not delay. Build a relationship with an advisor who will educate and encourage you on best financial practices.
The bottom line is no matter who you are, how much your net worth is, or what stage of life you’re in a financial advisor can only improve upon what you’ve been doing so far. So stop going it alone, doing it all on your own, and wondering why there is always that next level just out of reach. Cement your future with an advisor today.
I am working on an article to go with this video that uses actually number of schools based in Georgia. I will say that this will surprise you!
Here are links to additional articles that I used when researching this peice.
One more video for your consideration:
I hope everyone had a great Christmas...I sure did. After getting over strep and managing to give it to my two girls we were able to enjoy some family time. It was a blast getting to play in the snow with the kids for our first "white Christmas."
This reminded me of the memories that I have of my younger years; spending time with grandparents and extended family during the holidays. One of the traditions we had was that my grandmother would always give us longsleeve pajamas for Christmas. Being that we lived in Florida at the time, we would turn the air conditioner down low and the fans on to simulate cold weather for Christmas.
During the holidays, take the time to reminisce on the traditions that your family had growing up...and tell them to the younger generations. They will love the stories and it will create a new tradition that each generation can continue.
Have a safe and happy new year!
Chris Hardy - CFP®, EA, ChFC®, CLU®,