The Art of Choosing a Financial Planner
Choosing a financial planner can be an extremely frustrating and overwhelming task. That’s probably why a lot of people simply avoid it altogether. With that said, please be aware that being overwhelmed is not a good enough reason to avoid seeking a qualified advisor.
For many, having an advisor on their side who is knowledgeable, cares about them, and has their best interests in mind can be more than worth the trouble. Here are a few tips that might make the process a little easier on you.
When you first meet with an advisor, expect that they will ask a lot of questions and make sure that you are comfortable asking them questions as well.
You want to work with someone that is going to take a look at your entire situation, understand your risk tolerance, goals, and investment strategies, and advise you based on your unique situation.
Would you walk into a doctor’s office and just expect them to prescribe you medicine without asking you questions or diagnosing your situation? No. [In fact, if they did that it would be kind of scary, right?] Well, the same concept applies to financial advisors.
If someone tries to sell you something or make recommendations without taking the time to fully understand your situation, run as fast as you can right out the front door! It’s simply not possible to offer sound financial advice to someone without taking the time to analyze their situation.
Financial Planners vs. Insurance Agents
When choosing an advisor I believe it is important to find a firm that specializes in various areas of financial planning such as insurance and estate, college, and retirement planning. You have to be careful because there are agents only licensed to sell insurance products (life, long-term care, and annuities) who claim to be financial planners. But they aren’t, they are just insurance agents.
While these products are important pieces of a financial plan they leave out other important tools such as mutual funds, bonds, 529 plans and many other products and services. While it may be possible that all you need is an annuity, it’s just as possible you might need something else. Do you think they are going to offer something they can’t sell? Probably not.
Beware of Smooth Talkers
Another thing to consider when interviewing advisors is whether they talk fast and use a bunch of industry jargon you don’t understand. Financial planning is not as complicated as it seems!
If you don’t fully understand something, don’t sign on the dotted line! Test your understanding by trying to explain the concept to your friends. If you can’t explain it, that’s usually a bad sign.
Look for an advisor who is more interested in you understanding the concept than trying to impress you or intimidate you with fancy language.
When you finally get to the point where your advisor is presenting ideas and products, do they only discuss the benefits of the product while conveniently leaving out the negatives? Anything sounds good when you only focus on the upside. And there are upsides and downsides to everything. You have to decide for yourself whether the good outweighs the bad.
At the end of the day, you and your advisor should both be looking for a win/win/win situation. You have to win, the agent has to win and the insurance company has to win. The product should meet your needs, the agent should get paid for their services and so should the company offering the product. Otherwise, it doesn’t work.
Other questions to ask are:
- Do you like the advisor personally?
- Do their values and personality complement yours?
- What happens if you need advice and they are not available?
- How much experience do they have?
- What licenses do they hold?
- What designations have they earned?
- Why did they get into financial planning?
- Do they own the products they recommend?
Side note: don’t bother asking for references because no one is going to give you someone to talk to that hates them.
Trust Your Gut
This should get you started on the right path. Most importantly, trust your gut. Go with someone that makes you feel comfortable, has your best interests in mind, and knows more about financial planning than you do.
At Medallion Financial Group, we believe financial planning is about Family. We have been helping families invest in the future since 1987 through a holistic planning approach. We recognize there are a variety of needs when it comes to retirement planning, plan rollovers, annuities, college planning, life insurance options, and investment management. It is easy to get lost in a sea of choices. Our financial advisors help with the basics and beyond to enable our clients to get the education, advice and management they need to retire with confidence.
Our focus is twofold: first and foremost, we are fiduciary advisors. We stand against any violation of laws, values, and ethics. Second, we treat our clients as part of our family, not only those who call Maryland and Georgia home, but clients across the US who have benefited from our reputation of personal service, integrity, and expertise.
We strive to exceed client’s expectations – because we have high expectations of ourselves.