Rich Gartelmann, CFP®, Senior Vice President/Senior Investment Officer—Wealth Management
Choosing an investment advisor, like so many things in life, is all about finding a comfortable fit. If the relationship is going to work, you have to be comfortable not only with the person, but the company they represent and the approach they take to making recommendations and decisions regarding your future.
Here are five things to keep in mind when evaluating an advisor to determine if they are a good match for you.
- Who does more talking in the meeting? Your meetings, especially the first meeting, should mainly be about you, not an advisor’s services and products. The advisor should be focused on listening to you talk about your goals for your money, your attitudes toward risk and your current needs. Only then can they know what services and products they should be discussing with you.
- How are they paid? When it comes to fees, it shouldn’t be about finding the lowest fee option but about finding the advisory relationship that provides you with the greatest value. That value should be a combination of good advice, a full range of services and the potential for achieving the long-term results you seek. For instance, wealth management departments like ours are fee based.
- How responsive is their approach to change? Automated advisor platforms are becoming more and more popular. They are certainly more economical. But, they are programed based on averages and logic. Your life is probably not average. It’s likely to be highly dynamic with unexpected events and expenses. When life doesn’t go as planned, it helps to be able to talk to a person who can advise you on how to make adjustments while keeping you on track for your reaching your goals.
- What are their qualifications? Many wealth managers—ours included—have earned the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation. The designation is awarded after the completion of a rigorous certification process. To retain the certification, CFP®s have to meet ongoing education requirements. But, before handing your personal information over to anyone, no matter how many designations they have after their name, you should still follow a “trust but verify” policy. Find out if they have ever been disciplined for unethical or unlawful behavior. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) makes checking backgrounds easy through its online source, BrokerCheck. You can also look up registered investment advisers—those registered with the SEC or the state’s regulatory authorities here.
- Are they willing to provide a preview? To get a feel for what your experience would be like if you were a client, ask the advisor about how often and under what circumstances you’ll hear from them. Also, ask how they communicate—is it by phone, email or will they text you for a quicker response? Then, request referrals from current clients and talk to them about what they like and wish would improve about their relationship.
In the end, hiring an advisor is a lot like hiring an employee—their qualifications, attitude and work ethic need to match yours for a long and successful relationship to flourish.
For more information on how we approach and deliver wealth management services, visit us here or call 630-906-2000. We can’t wait to talk to you about what we can do for you today.