So you’ve finally decided to seek out a financial advisor for some help? Most financial advisors, including me, offer our prospective clients an initial free meeting. My advice is to meet with at least two or three so you can compare their approaches.
Here’s my advice on getting ready for the is meeting and getting the most out of them:
PRIOR TO THE MEETING
Decide what the heck you want. What is the reason you are spending an average of an hour with this individual? Are you looking for financial planning, investment help or both? Some financial planners don’t invest money, they only offer advice on your financial situation. Also, some financial advisors don’t have the training to offer financial planning. I happen to do both.
Your needs will determine the type of financial professionals to interview. My advice, check out an advisors website to get some early intel. That way you can tell what services he or she specializes in.
Understand how each advisor is paid. The main thing is you want to avoid any conflicts of interest. So it’s imperative to understand how an advisor is paid. Some advisors collect a fee or a percentage of assets under management. Others will accept commissions on products that they sell you.
An advisor whose compensation is primarily based on advice is probably going to do what is in your best interest…first. They will be acting in a fiduciary capacity. Advisors whose compensation is paid on products they sell are probably going to be more susceptible to bias.
AT THE MEETING
Get real. My advice is not to expect immediate answers to your planning and investing needs. If you are dealing with someone who is reputable, they just met you and have not done a full analysis of your situation or your investments. I give limited ideas on how I can help at these meetings because I just don’t know yet.
I’ll tell you this, any advisor that starts talking about how much money they can make you should send up a red flag. Excuse yourself the restroom, then when out of sight, run like hell out of the office.
Use The Force Luke! What I mean by that is (besides being a huge Star Wars nerd), use your feelings and instincts when talking to an advisor. Get an idea how comfortable they make you feel when asking questions about your finances. This will be a sure sign if they are right for you. If it’s conversational and fun, he’s a winner! In addition, if there are questions that get you thinking and concerned, that’s still a good sign.
You too are being assessed. Keep in mind just as you are interviewing the advisor to find the right fit, we are assessing you too! I try to decide if a prospective client will be easy to work with, follow my advice and become someone who I want to develop a friendship with.
I have run into prospective clients that don’t fit with my personality or their finances aren’t right for my practice. By the way, if you are married, try to have your spouse attend this meeting. As an advisor, I like for you both to hear what I have to say, and I like to watch you both discuss your goals and dreams. This is where I generally find out if there is conflicts about money or family.
There may be another meeting or two. Sometimes one meeting is not enough to assess whether that financial advisor is right for you. If you want to go back again, most of us will be excited that you are interested enough in what we had to say the first time. It will be worth it. You might hear something again that you missed the first time.
If you’d like to meet with me, write me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at (859) 225-2596. I’ll always treat you with respect and make the first meeting fun.