Top 5 Qualities to Look for in a Financial Planner

As the adage goes, "no one will care more about your money than you do"—which means that selecting the right financial planner can require a great deal of trust. Financial advisors can help guide your investments and provide you with invaluable advice to help place your money where it has a good chance of working at its highest and best purpose.

If you're selecting a financial planner for the first time or are hoping to move your services to a new firm, you may be wondering what to ask during an initial interview so you'll be able to relax and know that your assets are in good hands. Read on for five key qualities you'll want to seek out in your financial planner.

1. Expertise

Expertise over time tops the list for just about everyone who's looking for a financial planner. This doesn't necessarily mean that your financial planner needs to be in the second or third decade of their career; there are a number of sought-after certifications – like Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) – that indicate the planner has completed a rigorous course of study in financial planning objectives and is familiar with current tax law. 

However, not all financial planning expertise is equally helpful to all clients. For example, if your financial planner primarily works with pension recipients while you work for a startup, you may be better served by looking for someone who caters to those with similar circumstances. If you work for the Federal Government, then having a financial planner who has specific expertise in federal retirement planning should be a consideration. If you are a member of a trade or professional organization, you may be able to get a referral to a planner who is already familiar with your industry's practices and norms.

2. Personalized Communication

Each client has their own expectation and comfort level when it comes to planner-client communication. It's up to you to decide whether you'd like a planner who keeps you updated frequently and asks permission for even the most minor of transactions or one who checks in with you quarterly and makes financial moves based on your desired asset allocation and agreed goals. Trust is an important component of this communication; the more you trust your financial planner, the less likely you are to require ultra-frequent or detailed updates. 

Once you decide which communication style you prefer and how you'd like to be apprised of big decisions, you'll be able to ask these questions of your financial planner to ensure whoever you choose will be a good fit. 

3. Comprehensive

You deserve to have a financial planner who understands you and the goals that you have. Financial matters don't exist in a vacuum, and a financial planner who makes recommendations or takes action without considering how these fit into the total picture can do clients a disservice. Your financial planner should spend some time drilling down into issues that may not seem financial on the surface—your health, education, future goals, goals for your children, spending habits, and how you picture your life in retirement. Only by understanding what you're hoping to get out of the process can a financial planner keep the big picture in mind and make recommendations that are tailored to your unique situation.

Some of the additional topics financial advisors provide advice on include: 

  • Insurance coverage (including life, health, and disability)
  • The tax efficiency of your investments
  • The order in which you should withdraw from your investments to fund your retirement
  • How to pay for your child's college

This broad umbrella of considerations can help you determine if you're getting a one-stop-shop for all your financial needs. 

4. Trustworthy

Placing control of your financial assets—and in some ways, your future—in another person can be nerve-wracking. Your financial planner should be someone who engenders trust and creates the feeling of a partnership where your input is necessary and valuable. This means putting your interests first by acting as a fiduciary, recommending products and investments because they fit into your overall financial plan, not because they earn the financial planner a bigger commission. Before choosing a financial planner, it's a good idea to have at least a Zoom interview to see whether you’re a good fit for each other and to determine whether your financial planner can offer a range of products and services at varying fee levels.

5. Level-Headed

You don't want a financial planner who behaves as though the sky is falling whenever the market dips a bit. Instead, choose a planner who continually evaluates your options and makes recommendations but ensures that any advice given is still consistent with your financial plan and overall goals.

Typically, one of the easiest ways to lose wealth in the stock market is to sell during a dip, assuming that you'll be able to buy back in before valuations rise. Historically, most of the best-performing market days have been just days or weeks removed from most of the worst-performing market days and missing this drop and quick rise can seriously cut into your rate of return. Potentially, someone who missed the 10 best market days over a nearly 40-year period (from 1980 to 2018) could see their total return cut in half. This means that a financial planner who frequently cycles your investments into and out of the market could be putting your future returns at risk.

Another side to this coin is that it's important to choose an advisor who is willing to stand up to you as the client and say "no" when necessary. For instance, if you're hoping to retire in the next two years but are contemplating whether to sink your entire 401(K) into a speculative investment, a high-quality financial planner will do everything in their power to educate you on this risky decision. Often, it can be tough to objectively evaluate the wisdom of a financial decision when you have an emotional stake in it. A financial planner provides a dispassionate and objective third-party perspective whenever you need it.

 

At Medallion Group, our financial planners have more than three decades of experience in helping individuals and families plan for the future. By spending some time creating a financial plan now, you'll be more likely to spend your golden years traveling, engaging in hobbies, spending time with family, and creating priceless memories without worrying about how to pay for it.

You can contact us to speak with a financial planner who can go over your retirement planning questions in light of your own unique circumstances and goals.

We can help you develop a financial plan, select insurance, and if you choose, even manage your portfolio. To get started, schedule a free and no-obligation consultation with a financial planner today.

 

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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.