10 Questions You Should Ask Your Advisor
The financial advisor you choose to handle your family’s hard-earned wealth will have a significant impact on your progress toward your goals, your decision-making, and your confidence in your financial future. There’s considerable variation in the service, expertise, and abilities of the 200,000+ financial advisors across the country. (1)
With something as personal as your finances and as important as your family and goals in life, it’s important you work with an advisor you trust. Often, a strong relationship with a good advisor can last a lifetime and even through multiple generations. This is why it’s so important to take your time to find an advisor who can meet your family’s needs. As you consult with or consider advisors, ask them these 10 questions first before making the big decision.
1. What’s Your Industry Experience?
Experience is essential when you’re working with a professional of any kind, especially someone handling your finances. Don’t be shy about asking an advisor about their industry experience. It will give you peace of mind to know what market conditions they’ve experienced and how many years they’ve been working in the industry. At Beacon Wealth Management, we offer over two decades of professional experience in the financial industry.
2. What are Your Credentials?
At Beacon Wealth Management, we take credentials seriously, and we think you should too. Credentials and education play a big part in your advisor’s competency. There are hundreds of designations in the financial services and some are more applicable to your needs than others. (2) I have worked hard to obtain several specialized credentials, all of which require advanced knowledge and ongoing education. My credentials include Certified Wealth Strategist, Accredited Investment Fiduciary, Certified Estate Planner, Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultant, Plan Provider Consultant and Registered Financial Consultant. You can use a site like DesignationCheck.com to learn more about these credentials and others that financial advisors can earn.
3. What Services Do You Offer?
Not all financial advisors can provide a comprehensive level of financial services. Some cannot sell insurance or securities, such as mutual funds or stocks, if they don’t have the appropriate licenses. Or, some may only offer insurance or asset management. It’s ideal if you can work with an advisor who can address all of your financial needs and coordinate them into cohesive strategies that work together. Ask a financial advisor what services they provide. At Beacon Wealth Management, our goal is to help entrepreneurs, professional practitioners and retirees overcome the 5 major challenges facing affluent families. To address these concerns, we provide retirement and investment advisory services, tax reduction strategies, risk management planning, and estate and legacy planning.
4. What Do You Specialize In?
Many clients are drawn to financial advisors based on their experience and expertise in certain specialties. They know that their unique situation needs someone who can competently and confidently handle all the intricacies. At Beacon Wealth Management, we have focused our energy on understanding the multifaceted set of financial worries people face as they become more successful and get within 15 years of retirement. We have a deep knowledge of the challenges affluent families face as they approach retirement.
5. Who Do You Serve?
Some financial advisors specialize in serving a specific demographic or level of investable assets, so you’ll want to find this out before choosing an advisor. For example, if you’re a business owner, you may be better suited to work with an advisor specializing in helping business owners. While we serve a diverse range of clients, we predominantly work with affluent entrepreneurs, professional practitioners, and families who are within 15 years of retirement.
6. What is Your Planning Philosophy?
It’s important to work with an advisor who shares a similar planning philosophy to you. Some advisors are less hands-on depending on your management preferences. Talk with an advisor about how he or she guides clients’ financial decisions. At Beacon Wealth Management, our mission is to help you make smart decisions about your money. To do so, we use a disciplined professional process to establish a solutions-based wealth strategy to help you reach your goals. We want to make sure that we always have the most up-to-date understanding of your personal situation. Therefore, our periodic financial checkups will ensure that when your life changes, your wealth strategy evolves with it.
7. How Much Do You Charge?
Financial planning and investment costs can be confusing. And too often, financial advisors don’t readily disclose their fees. At Beacon Wealth Management, we believe it’s important for our clients to know our costs upfront and how we get paid. During an initial consultation, we review all fees and investing costs before implementing any strategies. We want our clients to feel comfortable with their strategies and confident that they are no hidden fees eating away at their hard-earned savings.
8. Who Else On Your Team Will Be Working With Me?
One professional advisor and an assistant cannot handle the complexity of today’s financial world. We have assembled an entire family of local, specialized professionals to provide an effective client experience; something you won’t find at most firms. Along with our team of advisors, we can partner with CPAs, attorneys, and other professionals, based on a client’s needs.
9. Are You a Fiduciary?
An advisor who serves as a fiduciary accepts a responsibility to put her client’s interests first and foremost in all decisions. A fiduciary is supposed to avoid conflicts of interest and remain unbiased in her recommendations and advice. As an independent advisor, I agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, and as a fiduciary, I believe in transparency and that the client comes first.
10. Have You Ever Violated Any Standards or Laws?
It’s a good idea to check an advisor’s credentials and run a background with regulatory agencies. Some advisors may have been subjected to disciplinary action if they violated any laws or if a client took action against them. You can look up an advisor’s professional history by visiting FINRA’s BrokerCheck. This database will also show you the years of experience an advisor has and the licenses and credentials he or she has.
Take your time and trust your intuition when selecting your advisor. The relationship should feel right and you should never feel pressured to make a decision quickly. An advisor should be happy to answer these questions and any others you may have about how they operate.
At Beacon Wealth Management, we believe in complete transparency and want our clients to feel comfortable working with us and asking any questions they may have. By allowing me and my firm to take care of the intricacies of wealth management and investing, you can devote more time to your family and passions in life.
If you’d like to learn more about our answers to these questions or any others you may have, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can start now by requesting a free 60 minute discovery consultation, during which we’d be happy to answer your questions.