So, how do you know if the financial advisor you’re planning to meet is right for you? And how can you tell from your first meeting? Here are some points to keep in mind.
1. They have empathy for your evolving situation.
Finding the right financial advisor means finding an individual who can assess your financial background and goals and tailor their expertise to your needs. This also means accounting for a change in your financial situation and consequently, your goals. Your life is not one-size-fits-all, so your financial strategy shouldn’t be either.
2. They let you speak.
This links back to the first point. A central duty of a financial advisor is to open up the discussion, set a clear agenda for the meeting and structure your time together (your first investment with the financial advisor!) so that you can voice your goals and ambitions. Don’t know what they are or should be? That should be accounted for as well. Through genuine curiosity and open-ended questions, a financial advisor should dig deeper to understand you as a person so that they can create a strategy that suits your needs. A financial advisor should also be able to explain the reason for each of their questions, to put you at ease.
3. They adapt to your knowledge level.
You may have found ways to prepare for the meeting. You may have even prepared a family constitution. But if you don’t have the time or inclination to do so, it’s still alright. A competent financial advisor should be able to adapt to your level of knowledge without judgement. The initial learning curve can be steep, but the time spent in bringing clarity at this stage can leave the client with a valuable gift – confidence. And if you are already familiar with the investments universe and have a clear picture of your wealth, the financial advisor needs to keep that in mind as well.
4. They set realistic expectations.
A financial advisor has the expertise to know when a client’s wishes are not realistic or not in their best interest. A good financial advisor will say so as plainly as possible. The role of an advisor is to paint a realistic picture for the client and lay out feasible options. And sometimes this picture is not to the liking of the client. But it does open up the possibility to set new expectations and implement strategies with a higher probability of success.
5. They are transparent and client-oriented.
Like any product or service, a financial advisor comes with a cost too. The first meeting is also when a financial advisor must clearly define how they make money when you invest. Yes, they can get paid in a few different ways. Knowing this can help you evaluate the worth of their service. Is it a flat fee that they charge on an hourly, monthly or annual basis? Is it a commission that they charge for every investment sold? Or is it a combination of the two? These are all valid questions. And whatever their answers may be, by the next meeting, a good financial advisor should be able to justify why their proposed investment solutions are tailored to you and your best interests.