You may have seen those Schwab commercials that have been running the past few weeks. They do a great job of addressing some of the things you should be thinking about when you talk to a new financial advisor.
One of the most important things being the questions that should come up during your first meeting: both the kinds of questions you should be asking, and the questions you should be asked. While Schwab covered a few, we’d like to add our own.
So here they are, directly from the Planning Capital team.
Questions You Should Ask Your Advisor
An investor who is looking to hire an advisor should ask:
“How do I pay you for your services?”
By doing that, they’ll know where an advisor’s allegiance is. Unfortunately, money tends to drive advice. If an investor pays for planning, and real planning is not inexpensive, it should be appropriate to the complexities of the client’s financial situation. AND there should be no “minimum account size”.
The advisor then has a purpose: to focus their attention around the “planning process.” This is what’s known as a “fiduciary” process, which means to understand the client’s goals and purpose, gather ALL the data, prioritize the client’s objectives in attaining their goals, implement the plan and monitor the plan.
Then they need to ask:
Planning is in itself a process and should be ongoing, and the fee recurring. Following up on life happenings is a very important part of the process, along with annually reviewing the plan. And this depends on the complexity of the client: sometimes a client needs multiple reviews throughout the year on various topics like taxes, family or estate planning, investment review and adjustments in response to life changes.
“What is your business continuation and succession plan?”
This will give you insight into whether the advisor is walking the walk. A good financial planner should have the foresight to put a plan in place for the future of his or her business. You will also gain an understanding of the advisor’s career path, which will be revealing as to whether or not the relationship is a good long-term fit.
Understanding how an advisor is compensated will give you an idea as to whether or not they are working in your best interests. Additionally, understanding that an advisor practices what they preach. AND knowing that – should something happen to your advisor – you are still in capable hands is very important as well.
I think the next single best question you can ask is:
“How will you communicate with me about my plan and investments?”
It is important for you to fully understand the scope of your engagement with a Financial Advisor. Asking them how they will be communicating with you moving forward is pretty important. It allows you to not only understand the level of engagement you should expect, but also can give insight into whether your advisor is someone who is a proactive communicator and not just someone who is going to be reacting when you are reaching out to them. You want to make sure that you are on the same page about the expected amount of communication in your relationship.
Questions Your Advisor Should Ask You
First and foremost, money is very personal to people. It is very important to understand what their biggest worries are about money.
“What is your biggest worry or concern about your money?”
That is a deep-rooted question, and if I can get the answer to that question, I can help alleviate their biggest concerns.
“How do you define success?”
This will help in uncovering the client’s biggest pain points, as well as in setting and prioritizing action items. Fiduciary advisors should always be doing what is in the client’s best interests. In most cases, this starts with the client articulating his or her best interests in their own words.
“If money weren’t an issue, what would you be doing with your time?”
I think one of our primary goals is to remove the stresses that personal finance can cause on people’s lives, which isn’t to say we don’t want them thinking about their financial situation. We want clients to be active and engaged in the process, but we also want them to have more time to focus on the things that they love. Understanding what it is that is really important to our clients – whether it be spending time with their kids, traveling, or some kind of hobby – we ultimately want to know what they want to focus their lives on. If we have that information, we can help them worry less about their financial situation and focus more on what it is they want to do and to achieve.
Click here for a free workbook put together by Schwab that will be a great starting point for finding the right advisor for you. And as always, you can reach us with any questions you might have: 267-589-9210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.