How to Find the Best Financial Advisor Near You
If you’re hoping to find the best financial advisor near you, there are several vital issues you will need to think about or become aware of before deciding on who that person is. Finding the best advisor for you is not as simple as typing “financial advisors near me” into a search engine and then clicking on the first result. Not even close.For ultra-high net worth individuals with $10 million and more in liquid assets, we recommend going through our exclusive guide on how to find a financial advisor.
Pillar Wealth Management offers wealth management services that include financial planning, investment management, tax minimization, portfolio planning, and more. We work exclusively with individuals having $5 million to $500 million in liquid assets. Click here to book a free consultation session with us.
First and foremost is, what does “best” mean? And, does being the best financial planner have anything to do with their location?
This article will unpack these and the issues listed below in great detail. We’re doing this because deciding on which financial advisor to work with is probably the second most important relationship you will ever choose to have in your life, right behind your spouse.
Is that a surprising statement?
Consider this: Many investors work with the same financial advisor for decades – longer than they will work at most of their jobs. And money is one of the essential things in life. Learning how to grow it, manage it, use it, and protect it is something everyone needs help with, and it doesn’t get more comfortable with age. Your financial advisor will play an exceptional role in your life and maybe with you for many years. Kind of like a spouse.
So with that in mind, let’s look at how to identify the best financial advisor for you, who may or may not be near you.
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Pros and Cons of Working with Financial Advisors Near You
You want to find the best financial advisor, but you may also feel like their location should be close to yours, at least in the same state, if not the same city or county. But – does location matter?
Local Advisor Advantages
There are some advantages to working with a local advisor. Here are a few:
First and most apparent, you can meet them in person. If you envision needing to sit in the same room for multiple meetings, proximity would be convenient for everyone.
Furthermore, if you have any interest in working with a financial consultant who also has expertise in real estate investing, business investing, or startups, it might benefit you to work with someone who knows the local markets to some degree. Also, a financial planner near you will have more in-depth knowledge of the state and local tax laws. Depending on your situation, there are some benefits to gain from having a financial advisor near you.
Non-local Advisor Advantages
That said, there are several reasons the location doesn’t matter and may limit your options.
With technology today, meeting online is pretty much just as easy, if not more comfortable, as meeting in person. So the idea of needing to ‘look them in the eye’ doesn’t require a local advisor like it would have even ten or twenty years ago. And with the coronavirus lurking around for the foreseeable future, maybe virtual meetings are the better option, even if your advisor is local.
Furthermore, if you think that looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand helps you trust them better, it’s not necessarily true. Hucksters and scammers succeed in part because they have learned how to communicate and win the trust of people who want to believe in what they’re selling. And when it comes to advisors, this is easier in person.
The truth is, trusting your financial advisor doesn’t have anything to do with meeting in person. It has to do with their ability to listen, and then to create a 100% customized plan that you have high confidence will help you achieve all your goals and desired lifestyle outcomes.
Furthermore, you can get all your investment performance updates through email. And your money will be held in custodial accounts that are national. Pillar uses Fidelity as our accounts custodian. (If you’re not sure what this means, we’ll elaborate on it more later. For now, the point is that your money isn’t held locally. Thus the location of the advisor isn’t relevant to the process).
So, given a choice between the ‘best’ advisor, however that gets defined, and an advisor near you even if they aren’t the best, which would you pick?
In most cases, we recommend favoring expertise and experience over the location of anyone you consider going to for financial advice.
To learn more about this, click here to arrange a free consultation with our wealth managers.
Finding the ‘Best’ Advisor
So, how do you find that best wealth management advisor near you or not?
One way to is to use the resource to the right, the most authoritative exploration into how to find the best financial advisor. It is free and highly recommended, especially for investors with a high net worth or ultra-high net worth.
For now, just keep reading. You’re in the right place!
What does ‘best’ mean, when looking for a financial advisor? Put simply, the best financial advisor for you is someone with three core qualities:
1) They align well with your life situation
2) They are trustworthy
3) They are exceptionally skilled in the ways you need them to be
For instance, if you have high net worth or ultra-high net worth, you need an advisor specializing in your market. Your needs are unique. Your expectations are different. An advisor trying to be all things to all people isn’t going to provide the service you want. A big bank or large brokerage firm won’t offer the personalized service or 100% customized planning you need.
But that’s just one type of advisor, also known as a wealth manager. Let’s look at some others.
Understand the Types of Financial Advisors
An ultra-high net worth financial advisor caters to one group of investors and families. Here are some other qualifications to help narrow your search:
Independent or large firm?
Financial consultants and advisors at big banks are working for someone else in addition to you. They have quotas to meet, products to sell, commissions to make, and stockholders to please. You are not their only concern. Big banks sometimes feel safer because they are known brands. But in reality, they are often less safe. Why? Three reasons:
1) Less experienced – by and large, most big bank advisors are less experienced, because they hire more people right out of college
2) Conflicts of interest – they put their company’s interests before yours
3) Less trustworthy – their track record demonstrates lower levels of trust, as seen in numerous scandals, lawsuits, fines, and in some cases, complete shutdowns (Lehman, Washington Mutual)
In contrast to large firms, an independent financial planner will not be bound by sales targets, and in most cases, can offer a more diverse set of investment options, since no one is whispering in their ear after you leave the room. Independent advisors can offer more excellent protection and better service – see six ways
Fiduciary or non-fiduciary?
There are many ways a non-fiduciary financial advisor can cost you and even hurt you financially. We’ll discuss these more later when we talk about fraud and how to find professional financial services you can trust.
A non-fiduciary has much more freedom to offer products and recommend solutions that may not be best for you, though they may generate commissions or higher pay for the advisor.
The point for now is, a financial advisor who is both independent AND a fiduciary will provide a very different experience than one who has just one, or neither, of those qualifications.
Here are some other titles of various financial advisors, and how they align with the terms just discussed:
Investment Management Advisors – Retirement Specialists
This type of advisor is now held to the Department of Labor’s fiduciary standard. They must disclose fees, and any conflicts of interest, and cannot recommend products that conflict with other investments in your retirement account.
Fee-Only Financial Planners
These tend to be independent advisors, so they can voluntarily bind themselves to the fiduciary standard or not. The surest way to find out is simply to ask them. These types of advisors charge flat fees, or a fee based on a percentage of assets under their management. They do not accept commissions. Pillar charges a percentage-based fee, with a sliding scale as the amount invested increases. We also require a $5 million minimum.
Also regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, these advisors do not have to be fiduciaries either, but are bound by the suitability standard, a much more relaxed guideline. Broker-dealers tend to charge commissions, so they will often recommend products or other investment vehicles that benefit them as well as (hopefully) you.
These and other specialists, like tax accountants, are not held to a fiduciary standard.
There are many other terms, acronyms, and designations, and it can become kind of messy to keep up. Keep reading to learn how to narrow down your choices from the multitude of options.
Seek a Financial Advisor with a Top Reputation
This is harder than you might think, because financial advisors are not allowed to be reviewed based on the investment performance of their clients. Without this kind of authoritative first-hand information, how can you be sure who really knows their stuff?
One of the simplest and most effective ways is simply to examine their website.
If a financial advisor has a tiny website with just a few pages, that’s an indication they aren’t investing a whole lot of time or money in their business. Anyone can just throw up a website.
Contrast that with an independent financial advisor, like Pillar, who offers a wide array of resources, detailed clarity about their services, values, and investment philosophies, and multiple ways to engage with them. With so much information, you can have a clear picture of their reputation and trustworthiness before you even talk to them.
Putting up a robust and authoritative website is expensive and time-consuming. Few if any disreputable advisors have the stomach for it.
Another way to assess an advisor’s reputation is simply to reach out to them. Test the waters.
Any advisor who doesn’t get back to you promptly – within 24 hours at the latest – should be viewed with a little less confidence. You might extend that time a little if you email them late Friday night…
Reputation also is demonstrated by expertise, and expertise is demonstrated by authorship. If your financial advisor has produced books or other authoritative written works, you can have greater confidence in the strength of their reputation and service. You will do even better if you read them.
Below you can find our most authoritative book on The Art of Protecting Ultra-High Net Worth Portfolios and Estates – Strategies For Families Worth $25 Million To $500 Million.
You can also check out our guide that explains how we achieve investment performance for our clients.