by Rebecca J. Sargent, Esq.
Advisory relationships in the financial area come in all shapes and sizes. Advisors are from big firms or little; some manage money for a fee, some sell products; some specialize in certain subject areas like tax; some are credentialed (CTFA, CPA, JD, CFP), some have no credentials but years of experience — and on and on. In a world with this many options, how does a client find and use the right advisor?
In a discussion with a client, I asked the question, “What is the most important thing to you in working with your financial advisor?” I expected the client to talk about issues like knowledge, certifications and fees. What I heard, instead, is a lesson to us all:
In no uncertain terms, the client responded that the most important thing was “comfort.” Since I didn’t hear what I expected, I asked him further, “What do you mean?” The client’s response was quick and definite. He said, “I expect that any advisor who is recommended to me by people I trust knows what they are doing. Of course certifications are good and comforting, furthering my belief that the person is qualified to help me, but none of that tells me the most important thing. Will the advisor understand me, my family and my goals and beliefs; be accessible to me on my schedule, not theirs; and be able to talk to me in a way I understand, which includes telling me when I am going down a wrong path, not just agreeing with me to keep me as a client. The most important thing for me is comfort, which is hard to find, and even harder to give up once experienced.”
When choosing an advisor or team, it is important to listen to others who have worked with them, whether friends, family or other professionals. Reputations are hard to make and easy to lose in the advisory area, so look for someone with a good reputation and recommendations. It is important to choose someone who is knowledgeable. Certainly both certifications and experience are great indicators that an advisor has the subject matter knowledge to help.
Remember however, that there are different areas of specialty within advisors. A client can often create a “team” of advisors who work well together, including a CPA, attorney, insurance professional and/or wealth manager, or choose an advisor, such as a CTFA or CFP, who is certified in a number of areas and acts more like a generalist. Either method works, depending on the client and advisors, but the success of working relationships goes back to the trust and comfort my client was so adamant about.
The right advisor will work with a client in all different types of areas. He or she will not focus on specific transactions but rather on the overall financial health of the client. When making recommendations, or giving advice, the right advisor will look at the total picture, taking into account practical family situations, short and long term goals, and tax and legal issues.
Using a financial advisor as a check and balance to the client’s own ideas and instincts allows the client to retain control and have a safety net at the same time. Clients will appreciate the flexibility and coordination, especially in a financial world where complications, rules and regulations are the norm.
The information presented on this website is general in nature and not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship will exist with Jones, Kuriloff & Sargent, LLC unless we agree in writing after a personal consultation. Please contact us for a consultation on your particular situation.