This issue marks one year since I started writing the financial column for Your Sumner. It has been a lot of fun to come up with topics, at times with help! One topic that generally comes up is, “What should I look for in a financial advisor?” I have been a practicing financial planner since 2003, and in the financial business since 1996. One thing I realized early on in my career is that building any business is about relationships – and even more so in the financial arena.
Picking the right advisor is important. If done correctly, you could be starting a relationship that will be very impactful throughout your working career and retirement. Here are a few tips you can use when trying to determine if the advisor is right for you.
How does the advisor get paid? This should come up fairly early in the interview process with the advisor. Are they fee-based, or do they work on commission? Based on my own experience in the financial business, I encourage people to avoid commission based advisors due to the conflicts of interest that can arise. However, just because someone is fee-based (or fee-only) doesn’t mean they are perfect. Issues can exist there as well.
Check out the background of your potential advisor, or current advisor. You can check sites such as brokercheck.finra.org, or contact the Better Business Bureau to find out if your advisor has had complaints registered against them. Ask them if they have been involved in any arbitration cases, or been investigated for any reason. Ask if they have ever filed bankruptcy – if they can’t manage their own finances, how would you expect them to manage yours?
Is the advisor credentialed? Are they a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) or ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant)? Both designations give credibility to the potential advisor.
Is the advisor acting in a fiduciary capacity? This means the advisor has to act in your (the client’s) best interest. Make sure this extends to the sales process as well. If not, they may only have to satisfy a suitability standard, which means whatever is sold to you only has to be suitable, but not necessarily in your best interest. This is a lesser standard, and generally applies to commission based advisors.
I hope this helps, and if you want more info, feel free to give our Gallatin office a call at 615.461.8653, or check us out at paulwinkler.com. We can set up a free initial consultation to determine if our office can help you with your current situation.
Until next month,
Jonathan Walker, CFP®, RICP®
*Advisory services offered through Paul Winkler, Inc. (“PWI”), a Registered Investment Advisor. PWI does not provide tax or legal advice; please consult your tax or legal advisor regarding your situation. This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed to be a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities.