Some of the most important conversations you may have will be with your Financial Advisor. That’s why he or she will want to get to know you as a person, not just as a client. Your advisor must understand your financial needs so he or she can help you reach your goals. So when you’re meeting your potential financial advisor: talk, listen, share experiences and ask a lot of questions.
Keep in mind a conversation with your Financial Advisor is not a one-time event. You should have the kind of relationship that allows you to talk regularly about life changes and how to best manage day-to-day needs while staying on the path toward your long-term goals.
As a financial advisor myself, we want to make the process of working with an advisor as simple and smooth as possible. Here are some tips on how to nurture a positive relationship and set the stage for working together toward your goals.
Disclose all of your goals and objectives. Be as detailed as possible about what you want to achieve and by when. It’s also important to discuss what you’re willing (or not willing) to sacrifice financially in order to make each goal a reality. Discuss what financial changes or challenges could exist that may impact your ability to reach your goals.
Establish expectations. Every relationship is unique, and the one you have with your financial advisor is no exception. To make the advisor-client relationship successful, both client and advisor must agree to truly listen to and hear one another. Additionally, clients and advisors should agree upon how often they wish to meet and the best way to communicate — whether by email, over the phone, or in person — at the very start of the relationship.
Understand the fee schedule. To avoid any surprises, make sure you understand the fee schedule and how your financial advisor is compensated. Some advisor fees may be deducted directly from your portfolio, while others may be billed directly.
Always agree to next steps when you meet or communicate. Your doctor or dentist usually ends your appointment by scheduling a specific date and time for a follow-up — the same approach can work well with your advisor. In addition to scheduling your next meeting, it’s also important that your advisor communicates with you in lay terms that you can comprehend. Make sure that you leave every meeting with an understanding of everything that was discussed.
Keep your advisor informed. Life includes unexpected twists and turns and many can impact your finances. Make your advisor aware of your life changes, including the birth of children, death of a loved one, job changes, marriage, and divorce as quickly as possible, and not just during agreed-upon meeting times. This knowledge will help you and your advisor better respond to events as they occur and shape the advice your advisor can provide.
An Advisor’s Commitment
As your relationship with your financial advisor progresses, you will find a high level of commitment on his or her part to helping you reach your investment goals. When choosing your advisor and getting to know them, it’s important to ensure that although they may manage other clients, they still are committed to you. Your advisor should:
Take the time to build your relationship and get to know you and what matters in your life.
Help you build a holistic financial picture, even with money invested elsewhere.
Understand your lifestyle, financial needs, and goals.
Build your relationship based on your preferences and work style.
Provide transparency about fee structures and services.
Create an individualized plan optimized to help you reach your financial goals.
Help you stay on track with your plan that includes financial planning benchmarks, asset allocation, account performance, and risk tolerance.
Provide you with leading strategies and research applicable to your unique situation.
Be there throughout your entire financial journey.
Tony Palumbo is a financial advisor for Wells Fargo Advisors in New Milford, NJ. He can be reached at (201) 225-4024.