Are you one of the more than 70% of Americans without a financial plan? If so, what’s preventing you from finding a trusted, reliable financial advisor who can help? How do you know when it’s time to seek assistance? And, most importantly, how do you choose the right financial advisor?
In 2022, 35% of Americans worked with a financial advisor and 57% reportedly didn’t have a financial representative. Those who work with financial advisors tend to feel more comfortable about their financial situation. Studies show that 54% of Americans working with advisors felt very financially secure compared to only 21% without an advisor.
With their know-how about the complexities of wealth management and their keen ability to navigate the financial markets, financial advisors can help you reach your financial goals. Their objectivity enables them to provide calm perspective during volatile market environments and steer you away from making emotional financial decisions. Most importantly, they can put in place a long-term plan to address all the key areas of your financial life, from education planning to retirement to your legacy.
“A good financial advisor provides comfort and peace of mind,” notes Symmetry Senior Regional Director Michael Storer. “They take the pressure off, provide a professional perspective, and help ensure you’re meeting your life goals, whatever those may be.”
With more than 300,000 financial advisors in America, how do you find the right one for you?
Most importantly, you should look for a financial professional who is planning-focused and helps provide significant value. Avoid financial advisors who just want to sell you something or who place their value on their ability to pick stocks. They rarely focus on what matters most—your long-term financial plan.
It’s also important to work with an independent advisor, who—as a fiduciary—is legally and ethically required to act in your best interests. Always. Fiduciaries are also obligated to disclose information about fees charged and any conflicts of interest.
“Taking the time to go through a plan with a certified financial planner who’s a fiduciary is in your best interest versus getting that hot stock tip,” advises Apella Wealth Financial Advisor Peter Leppones, CFP®. “It’s better to have a sense of confidence and comfort with your plan and with your financial outcomes.”
Once you’ve decided to engage a financial advisor, here are several steps to begin your search:
What areas of financial planning are most important to you? Investing? Education? Retirement? Minimizing taxes? All of the above?
Having a sense of your needs will help you narrow down your search and allow you to ask your advisor the right questions about their areas of expertise.
Just as you may be looking for a specific type of advisor, many advisors work with a specific type of client. Do your research. Find out what type of clients the advisors work with to ensure they have specific knowledge and expertise to meet your needs. Are you a doctor, a dentist, a professional…there are financial advisors who specialize in working with investors just like you.
Referrals are one of the most common ways investors find their financial advisors. Find out who trusted family and friends work with and remember to do your research.
Look at their website. Check out their social media presence. And be sure to see if they have a blog or have written any articles.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) offers information for checking your investment professional, including the Investment Advisor Public Disclosure website. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) also offers the free BrokerCheck tool, which provides access to investment adviser information and shows whether a person is legally registered to offer investment advice.
In addition, does the financial advisor has an advanced designation, such as Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®)? This designation shows the advisor has received formal education and training on a variety of financial planning topics and has passed a financial planning exam. CFPs are required to take yearly continuing education courses to remain current.
If the advisor isn’t a CFP, they should ideally have at least five years of experience in the financial services industry.
Financial advisors utilize three basic types of compensation structures:
Since fee-only and fee-based advisors are paid for advice, your interests are aligned. The advisor only prospers as your account prospers. This avoids the conflicts of interest that can occur with commission-based advisors, who are only compensated when making trades in a client’s account.
Ideally, you want to work with a financial advisor who takes a collaborative approach. While an advisor may be skilled at building and maintaining a thorough wealth management plan, additional expertise from trusted professionals—such as a CPA, an estate planning attorney, and perhaps even an insurance specialist—should be part of the overall process.
Finally, be sure to interview more than one financial advisor before making a choice. Spend time asking the advisor questions to understand how you might work together, their areas of expertise, and their approach to planning and investing.
Even if you have a great referral, it’s always beneficial to meet with more than one person to ensure you’re in sync, your needs are understood, and think you’ll work well together.
For questions or more information, visit symmetrypartners.com/contact-us
or give us a call at 800.786.3309.
Symmetry Partners, LLC, provides this communication on this site as a matter of general information. Information contained herein, including data or statistics quoted, is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed or warranted. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may not be reflective of current opinions or positions. All content on this site is for educational purposes and should not be considered investment advice, recommendation, or offer of any security for sale. Symmetry Partners, LLC does not approve or endorse any third-party communications on this site and will not be liable for any such posts.
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