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10 Tips for How to Find the Best Financial Advisor Near You

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Does Distance Matter?

Many stimuli can prompt the search for a new financial advisor. How to Find the Best Financial Advisor Near You?

A falling out with your previous advisor, a sudden change in income or net worth, a new financial scenario that is beyond your ability to handle confidently, you’ve just never had one and have reached your limit of managing money all on your own – whatever the reason, you want to find the best financial planner to work with.

Here are ten tips for finding the best certified financial planner for your needs.

1. Assess Your Values

You must ‘know yourself’ before you can choose the best financial advisor for your situation.

What are your values about money? How do you like to spend it, save it, and use it? What is important to you?

Some people want to lean heavily into philanthropy, using their money to help others. Others want to use their money to invest in other businesses or real estate. Still others want to start their own businesses, expand current ones, or branch into multiple ones.

Others prioritize saving for retirement and helping their kids and grandkids. Other people like travel, expensive dining, unique experiences, boats, collecting, art, music, sports, throwing big parties, and many other lifestyle choices.

Your values don’t have to be the same as your financial advisor’s values. But you do need to know what you want, what is most important to you. Otherwise your advisor might recommend an array of strategies that would be tremendous for someone else, but that miss the mark for you.

Know who you are and what you want in terms of money and lifestyle. And on the flip side, acknowledge that there are things you don’t know about money management and investing, and that the right advisor will possess expertise you are lacking.

This is number one on the list because you MUST do this one first. The rest of the tips are in no particular order.

Talk with an independent fiduciary wealth manager with 30 years of experience

Schedule a free chat with CEO and Co-Founder Hutch Ashoo

Wealth Management Sausalito2. Decide if Proximity Matters

Does the best financial advisor have to be near you as well? Do they even need to be in the same city?

In most cases, we have found that distance doesn’t matter. Most investment vehicles are national, if not international. Most meetings can be done remotely with modern technology. Meeting in person may convey an illusion of increased trust, but one thing has nothing to do with the other.

That said, there are a few reasons you might prefer having a financial planner near you.

For more on this topic, here are reasons why the location of your advisor might matter, and why it might not matter.

3. Ask the Right Questions

There are at least ten questions you want to ask of any financial advisor you’re considering working with. Here is our top 10:

1. What is your minimum asset requirement?

2. How long have you been a wealth manager?

3. How long do your clients stay with you on average?

4. Are you a fiduciary?

5. What is your philosophy about active vs passive management?

6. What do you do to minimize my costs?

7. How often do you update my financial plan?

8. Do you believe you can outperform the market?

9. When I call with a question, who will I be talking to?

10. How can you help me feel secure that my money won’t run out?

For the answers you want to hear for each question – read this.

4. Clarify What You’re Looking for in a Financial Advisor

Are you looking for retirement security? If that’s your number one priority, be aware that the investment plan your advisor will create will likely look different depending on your age. A 45-year old has different retirement planning needs than a 65-year old.

Other things people look for from a financial planner include investment performance, peace of mind, and expert counsel on important issues like estate planning and tax planning. Some people are very aware of the things they should be doing with their finances, but they just don’t have time or motivation to do them and need help.

Knowing what you’re looking for – your perceived greatest needs – will help you find the advisor who can best serve that need.

How to Find the Best Financial Advisor Near You

5. Require Your Financial Planner to Specialize in High Net Worth Investments

That is – if you have high net worth or ultra-high net worth – you absolutely must find an advisor who specializes in working with people of your financial caliber. This is one of the biggest drawbacks (and there are many) of working with big banks and discount brokerage firms.

They simply do not possess the institutional expertise or relentless focus on people with your unique set of needs. They have high turnover. They employ people right out of college. They have pre-defined procedures and will try to fit you into their little boxes, even if you don’t.

But even in the independent world of investment advisories, there is a wide range of specialization and experience. For high net worth and ultra-high net worth investors, you need to find that specific branch of specialization.

Pillar Wealth Management requires a $5 million minimum liquid net worth for all our clients. If you sit above that, we might be the right fit for you. No matter which state you live in.

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6. Set a Minimum Level of Experience with High Net Worth

Again, if you have high net worth or ultra-high net worth, you don’t just want someone who specializes in your asset class. You want someone who has done it for a long time. 30 years of experience in the financial services “industry” isn’t remotely similar to 30 years of experience in high net worth wealth management.

Just like real estate investment is a specialty, and business investment is a specialty, and venture capital is a specialty, so is wealth management. We deal with clients who have unique needs, unlike what most of the population has to deal with.

And to be clear, if you have fewer assets than a high net worth individual, this is not about elitism or class division or any of that. It’s simply a matter of specialization. A person with $100,000 to invest does not have to worry as much about tax planning, estate planning, avoiding or minimizing estate taxes, and many other financial issues faced by our high net worth friends.

Find a financial advisor who has experience working with people like you. That’s what will serve you best, no matter how much money you have.

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7. Find a Good Situational Match

As just stated, specialization can carry many forms.

You may have chosen to focus more of your investment efforts in real estate. You might own a business and want help managing its finances. You may own multiple businesses and hope to sell them one day. If that’s you, use our 17-point business exit checklist.

Maybe your portfolio is far too heavily weighted in stock options in your company and you’ve recently read about the great danger of concentration risk. But, you don’t know how to sell them off without incurring a huge tax bill.

For all these scenarios and many others, you can find financial planners and wealth managers who have specific experience working through these with other clients.

If you have special concerns such as these, make this part of your discussion during your initial consultation. Make this part of your ‘interview.’

8. Find a Good Personality Match

Experience, specialization, performance, values – all these things matter a lot. But if you and your financial advisor can’t stand being around each other even on the phone or over the internet, it’s probably not a good fit.

Again, the free consultation offered by most advisors is a priceless and vitally important opportunity to assess things like this. You are interviewing them, and they are interviewing you. And just like a job, you may be working together for decades. So you need to get along.

Your advisor should be a person you could envision going with you on a cruise, or golfing, or out to dinner. Doesn’t mean you actually will do those things, but the compatibility needs to be there.

9. Look for a Fiduciary Financial Advisor

The list is long of things a non-fiduciary financial planner can get away with that cause you to suffer needless losses and great consternation.

They can lock you into annuities that charge fees as high as 4%, result in high taxes, and pay them hefty commissions, while you and your heirs get nothing if you die early. They can sell pointless life insurance policies that give you almost nothing of value but charge high commissions.

We have heard of spouses on their death beds being convinced to sign over their savings to an annuity, locking out the surviving spouse from accessing it.

Poor service, misleading claims about performance, poor recommendations, making decisions without consulting you – there are horror stories out there of all this and more.

A fiduciary financial advisor has taken an oath to always do what is in your best interests and not their own. The security, peace of mind, and trust you gain just from this standard cannot be priced.

Finding a fiduciary advisor is – in our view – a non-negotiable.

Talk with an independent fiduciary wealth manager with 30 years of experience

Schedule a free chat with CEO and Co-Founder Hutch Ashoo

10. Look for an Independent Financial Advisor

As much as you want a fiduciary advisor or wealth manager, especially if you are high net worth, you also want them to be independent.

Some people feel safer going with large firms because of the perceived safety and trust we think comes with big, established companies. But it doesn’t take much to recall big banks and firms that have imploded in previous financial crises and no longer exist. Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual – the list isn’t short.

And still other firms that exist today are frequently in the news because of borderline criminal actions. Wells Fargo has paid billions in fines for deceptive practices and other nefarious activities that hurt their customers while enriching their bottom line.

You are not safer or more secure with a large investment firm or big bank. History has proven it repeatedly.

Beyond that, you will likely not find fiduciary advisors working for large corporate banks or brokerage firms. You will find advisors toeing the line and following the pre-set procedures handed down by their superiors. The bank wins, whether you win or not.

You want a financial planner who is independent AND a fiduciary. You want both. Not just one.

Here are 6 benefits of working with an independent fiduciary

Hopefully these ten tips have left you feeling empowered and informed. That is our goal, because we are an independent fiduciary wealth management firm, and so we put your interests first.

Even if you aren’t our ideal client (we require a $5 million minimum investment), we still want you to find the best financial advisor to work with and hope this guide helps. We still want you to do well with your money and achieve all your financial and lifestyle goals.

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