Unquestionably the most important characteristic of a financial advisor (FA) is their trustworthiness. You’re relying on this person to provide objective financial advice and potentially manage your life savings. Also, you’re relying on your FA to safeguard large amounts of personal data, so making sure their trustworthy is a given.
Knowing your FA has the necessary technical competence is crucial when choosing to work with him or her. Financial planning isn’t rocket science but does require a wide variety of subject matter expertise, since everyone’s situation differs. Designations such as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, can help indicate someone with the appropriate training and education. However, when searching for an FA, it’s important to ask them what their value proposition is, to help give you a snapshot of their technical competence.
Money is emotional, and can often be the root of anxiety and/or fear. When discussing your financial situation with an FA, many aspects of your personal life will come into play. Therefore, it’s important to work with someone who has the empathy to recognize your emotional feelings beyond the financial ramifications. An FA client relationship can be life-long; look for someone has empathy for your situation outside of the financial implications.
How responsive is the FA in getting back to emails and phone calls? Look for an FA who is known for being responsive and prudent. Your financial life can change at any moment, so you’ll want someone who can respond when you truly need them. Hopefully, your FA has put you in a position to deal with adversity when it strikes, but you’ll want someone who can help you execute predetermined plans when financial challenges arise.
Financial planning and investment management are constantly evolving. Financial technology is always adapting to provide increased value to clients, therefore you want an FA who will keep you up to date with the best FinTech has to offer. With the shift towards passive investing and fee compression, you want an FA who continues to weigh the pros and cons of new investing strategies. The current investment landscape will surely look different 10, 20, and 30 years from now. Look for an FA who is committed to adapting, someone constantly searching for the best value in providing financial advice.