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How do you choose a financial advisor?
Finding the right advisor can be a tricky process. First, it’s important to determine what kind of services you need and what kind of relationship (if any) you want to have. We provide the information to help you with that decision below. Before meeting with a prospective advisor, it’s also a good idea to come with a list of questions. We show the 15 questions we think are most important and supply our answers as well.
What is important to you?
- An advisor who understands you and your risk tolerance?
- Someone who looks at your whole financial picture before making decisions?
- Interacting with a person with reasonable frequency?
- Understanding how your portfolio is designed?
- Someone who will take the time to explain investment concepts to you?
- A personal relationship with your advisor?
- Turning over your investments to someone else who you can trust?
What else matters?
- Is the advisor a fiduciary and therefore, required by law to act in your best interests?
- Does the investment advisor have investment experience?
- Will the advisor give you general investment recommendations such as whether to purchase a home, buy or lease a car, use a Roth or a traditional IRA, or which loan to pay off first?
What services do you want?
- A comprehensive financial plan that assesses your investments, your insurance, your estate, your tax situation and your risk tolerance?
- A firm who can design, implement and manage your investment strategy?
- Someone who will execute trades and occasionally give you investment suggestions?
- Online reports of investments daily?
- The ability to look up the value of all your assets (aggregated) regardless of where they are domiciled?
What are the different types of advisors?
- Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) – has licensed financial professionals who are fiduciaries. As a fiduciary, the RIA must provide you with investments which are in your best interest and are not tied to any family of funds or investment products. This is the highest standard of care.
- Broker–a licensed financial professional who provides you with investments which are suitable to your financial needs.
- Financial planner – a person who is trained in financial planning. A CFP® professional (certified financial planner) has a certificate from an accredited institution, passed the CFP® exam and worked as a financial planner for 3 years.
- Robo-advisor - investment management with minimal human interaction.
Many people are called advisors, but they can differ substantially in what they offer.
What services do different investment professionals offer and what is the best option for you?
- An RIA can provide you with a comprehensive investment plan, give you general financial advice and invest your assets in accordance with your goals, risk tolerance and best interests. If you are looking for full service, unbiased financial advice, this is your best option.
- A broker is generally not a fiduciary and charges a commission for executing trades. If you have an existing portfolio, feel comfortable managing it on your own and trade infrequently, a broker can be a good option.
- A financial planner will do a detailed and comprehensive analysis of your financial situation and may or may not make suggestions on how to invest to achieve your financial goals.
- A robo-advisor uses software algorithms to allocate, manage and optimize your portfolio. If you are a younger investor or have assets under $500,000 and like online automated products, this is an inexpensive option.
Click here for a list of questions you should ask when interviewing a potential financial advisor and view our answers if you are interested.
2X Wealth Group is a fiduciary. Lori Zager and Lisa James have extensive institutional investment experience. Lisa James has a certificate of financial planning from UC Berkeley and has passed the CFP® exam.