Find a Financial Advisor
You’ve conquered your budget, you’ve conquered your debt, and now – It’s time to begin investing. The simplest step is to put 15% of everything you earn into your 401k. However, once you have more than one 401k open because you’ve moved jobs, or you want to start a college fund, it might be time to find a financial advisor to help with your investments.
I am careful not to recommend specific Financial Advisors although I do help clients talk through what they learn in advisor meetings. I believe choosing one is a personal decision based more on trust and communication than anything and is not a decision to be taken lightly. Your Financial Advisor should be someone you work with for years.
What do you need?
Before going to an interview, think about what you are looking for in an advisor:
1. Investment Management: Most Financial Advisors will provide services to recommend investments and buy/sell investments on your behalf.
2. Financial Planning: Some will include planning beyond just your investments. Planning may include Retirement, Estate (your will), Tax management, insurance and other financial considerations.
3. Wealth Management: Is a combination of both of the above.
I suggest interviewing at least three advisors before you choose. Services such as Ramsey’s SmartVestor Pro or Smart Asset may be useful in identifying advisors to interview. Word of Mouth is a reasonable source as well.
When you meet them, you are mostly looking for someone you can work with. Do they explain things in a way you understand them? Are they willing to work with you as much as you would like? Here are some questions that may be helpful.
1. What process would we go through to develop both a plan and investment options for me? What might a plan address?
2. Can you explain to me the nature of the investments you may be likely to recommend?
3. Where would my investments be held and what visibility would I have to activity and changes?
4. How often would we communicate about my investments and possibly make updates?
5. How do you get paid? (and how much would that cost in my case)?
6. Do you act as a fiduciary (and what does that even mean)?
7. What certifications do you or your firm have?
Whatever you do, don’t let someone put your money into something you don’t understand.