Do Your Research

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Hiring a professional is often treated differently than other services, but should it be?  Consumers will often pour hours of research into which car, lawn mower, or phone to purchase. Shouldn’t they place as much consideration in who they trust for their family’s wealth and well-being?

The challenge with a financial advisor (wealth manager, financial consultant, etc.) is the titles can be vague and often the public cannot differentiate between their meanings without a certifying body for the titles. I’ll let you in on a little secret: There may be no difference except what title employers grant. So, how do you choose an advisor and know they are competent? Simple — conduct an interview and educate yourself on the industry a bit.

Below are some questions I recommend for such an interview. I will provide my answers so that you can get a taste of what you can expect.

  • What are your qualifications, credentials, and experience?
    • 23 years in the industry with three firms
    • I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.
    • Licenses/Exams passed:  Series 66, Series 63, SIE, Series 31, Series 7, Texas insurance
  • What services do you offer?
    • We are focused on multigenerational wealth management with a full service firm offering a broad range of investment products, financial and retirement planning, estate, charitable giving, and trust services, as well as banking/lending services and insurance solutions.
  • Will you have a fiduciary duty to me?
    • Yes, as a CFP® professional, I can only act in my client’s best interest.
  • What is your approach to financial planning?
    • We use a deliberate process of gathering information, developing goals, identifying best options, evaluating alternatives, creating and implementing a financial action plan, and revising the plan as needed.
  • What types of clients do you typically work with?
    • Current and former small business owners and professionals
    • Nonprofits and foundations
    • Our average household assets is +$1,000,000, but we work with many starting out who are serious about building wealth
  • Will you be the only advisor working with me?
    • I have an advisor partner and an experienced service team.
  • How will I pay for your services?
    • Our business is split between fees and commission depending on the product or service required. We will discuss which applies to your individual situation or investment mix.
  • How much do you typically charge?
    • We have a standard fee schedule and would be happy to share.
  • Do others stand to gain from the advice you give me?
    • We operate with minimal conflicts of interest and disclose any known in a recommendation.
  • Have you ever been publicly disciplined for any unlawful or unethical actions in your career?
    • No, but you should do a simple background check on FINRA BrokerCheck for any advisor you are considering.

In a perfect world, an advisor knows their client’s family, business, and financial situation intimately in order to make well-informed recommendations. My hope is that you are now well-prepared to evaluate who you will trust to share your life’s important details.

Raymond James & Associates, Inc., member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC

What type of questions do you have for your financial advisor? #JoinTheConversation at facebook.com/rgvisionmagazine.