When you decide you need to lose weight and eat healthy, you go to a dietician. If you want to redesign your home, you consult with an interior designer. If you need to know how to whiten your teeth, you head to the dentist.
When it comes to your finances – just like your health, your home, and your teeth – you need to consult with an expert on how to improve your situation. It doesn’t matter if you’re not earning enough money and you want to figure out how to make more, or you make enough but you want to learn how to invest it wisely. Whatever financial situation you’re in, you could use the help of a financial advisor.
Before finding a financial advisor on your own, first, learn exactly what they can do and how they can help you get ahead in life when it comes to your finances.
What is a Financial Advisor?
A financial advisor is a professional you can hire to help you meet your financial goals. When you meet with your financial advisor, you will discuss where you are financially and where you hope to be in the short and long term. Together, you will come up with a plan of action, and with it, a financial advisor will show you what steps you need to take in order to reach your goals.
That’s just the basics. On a deeper level, your visit with a financial advisor may look like this:
- You will bring all of your financial paperwork, including bank statements, credit card debts, investments, monthly bills, monthly budget, etc., to your financial advisor for review of your entire financial situation.
- You meet your financial advisor and they will present you with their business card, credentials, past clients, reviews, and results that will show they are credible and trustworthy.
- You will tell your financial advisor your goals. Remember: you want to have goals that are specific and measurable and not ones that are vague. For example, good goals would be, “I want to save $50,000 for my child’s college tuition by 2025,” or “I want to get out of $12,000 worth of debt over the next 18 months.” Vague goals would be, “I want to save up enough money for retirement” or “I want to get out of debt.” Your goals can always change depending upon your financial situation as well. If a costly emergency comes up, or you suddenly start making a lot more money, you can go back to your financial advisor and come up with new goals.
- Your financial advisor will listen to your goals and help you come up with a plan either during the session or when you do a follow-up. That plan may include paying off a certain amount of your debt each month, putting aside money for investments, or coming up with a monthly budget. Your plan will be for the short- or long-term depending upon what you hope to accomplish. Your financial advisor will give you their opinion on how long they think your goals should take to complete, and may offer you advice on what products and services to use to help you get there faster. For example, they may suggest you sign up for a 401(k) retirement plan or find a bank that pays you higher interest rates on your savings account. They might also set you up with other professionals that can help you such as stockbrokers, accountants, and mortgage officers.
Now that you know what will happen when you meet with your financial advisor, you have to know what to look for when choosing one.
Four Things to Look for When Choosing a Financial Advisor
1. The Right Financial Advisor for Your Needs
There are a few different types of financial advisors depending on your goals and needs. For instance, a financial advisor can range from a personal banker, who may provide you with a loan, sell you mutual funds, or help you invest in savings bonds, to a mutual fund representative, who will purchase and sell mutual funds for you. Stockbrokers can also help you invest in mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, or stocks, and a financial planner will help you with estate planning, retirement, and tax planning. If you want to learn how to invest, you’ll go to an investment advisor, who will direct you on where they think you should put your money to ensure it grows and help you build wealth.
2. A Financial Advisor Who Is Credible
You can’t hire just anyone off Google to hire your finances. You need to go with a financial advisor who has the proof to back up their claims as well as the certifications that prove they are credible. Go to The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors and search for an individual who is in your area. You can also reach out to trusted friends and family members for recommendations, and double check Yelp, Google, and Better Business Bureau reviews.
The fees for the different types of financial advisors are going to vary depending on what services they provide and how much of your portfolio they are managing. For example, financial planners may charge a few hundred dollars or up to $1,000 to $2,000 per month. An investment advisor is going to charge you a percentage of your portfolio; usually, that should be one percent of the amount you’re investing. If you rely on a personal banker, the bank pays their salary so you should not be charged any fees. Before your first meeting with a financial advisor, inquire about their fees and if you have to sign a contract, so you know what kind of agreement you are getting into.
4. Required Minimums for Investments
Before going to an investment advisor, you’re going to have to look into the required minimum to work with them. For example, it’s common for some not to work with clients with less than $250,000 in assets they can manage. Since they are only getting 1%, they need to ensure they can earn a living and keep up their reputation for working with a certain level of clientele. If you have less than $250,000, look for an investment advisor who is willing to take you on, or turn to a robo-advisor instead. A robo-advisor is an online financial advisor who will provide you with financial advice based on algorithms. Examples of robo-advisors include Wealthfront and Ellevest.
Getting Started with a Financial Advisor
Now that you know what a financial advisor does and what to look for in one, you can begin your search. Even though you’re going to a professional, that doesn’t mean that you should stop educating yourself on your finances or not be proactive when it comes to your bank account.
As always, you should continue researching best practices for staying financially healthy, whether that means downloading a personal budget app like Mint or signing up for an investment platform like Merrill Edge. The more you know when you go into your meeting with your financial advisor, the more they can help you succeed. You have to put in just as much work as they do – if not more – if you want it to be a fruitful and productive relationship.
Another way you can be proactive is to sign up for Nova-X Report, a subscription-based newsletter that will give you expert financial and investing advice. All you do is log onto your email, open up a message from Nova-X Report, and take the advice from financial expert Michael Robinson on how to build real wealth. You’ll learn about today’s most profitable opportunities as well as the investments that no one else knows about yet. You’ll find out which industries are about to explode and how to get in on them before it’s too late.
What are you waiting for? Meet with your financial advisor, get on track, and continue your education by signing up for Nova-X Report today.