Where to Find a Financial Advisor Who’s Best For You
10 Questions to Help You Identify the Best Financial Advisor for You
Your financial situation has advanced beyond mere paychecks and savings accounts. And you’ve come to see the need for a financial advisor to help you navigate your increasing financial complexity and maximize your growth to secure your future and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Sounds great… until you start looking for a financial advisor.
Where do you start? How do you find them?
Most of all, where do you find a financial advisor who is most suited to help you achieve financial security and serenity with your unique situation?
Let’s begin with where to find them.
4 Places to Find a Financial Advisor
It’s not hard to search the internet, but you’ll end up with a deluge of choices and an avalanche of information. It can work, but it can be hard to know when to take the next step.
Get a Personal Recommendation
You could reach out to family or friends, hoping they know someone you can trust and who possesses the expertise you’re seeking. The problem with that approach is, how do you know your financial situation has enough in common with your friend?
What worked for them might not work for you.
Financial advisors tend to specialize. Some specialize in families. Some in retirees. Some in business owners. Some in young investors just starting out. Some narrow it down to certain ages, like over 40. Some, like Pillar, only work with investors with a bare minimum of $1 million and up to $400 million in liquid assets. We’ll explain why this is so critical to you a bit later.
So unless your financial and life situation mirrors pretty closely to that of the person giving you a recommendation, that financial advisor might not be the best one for you.
Look for Advertisements
You can usually find financial advisors in magazines, newspapers, and online ads. Some advertise via direct mail or radio, offering seminars and other ways to learn about their services.
Advertisements offer a way to discover new choices you might not find if relying on family and friends, or hoping you type the right words into a search engine.
Whatever led you to this page, you’ve already found a financial advisor. But, that doesn’t mean we’re the best one for you. Again, Pillar only works with investors with more than $1 million in liquid assets and who are over age 40. ‘Liquid assets’ means that $1 million minimum excludes the value of your home. If you have less than that, you’ll want to find an advisor using other means.
The deeper question isn’t where to find a financial advisor. Your greater challenge should focus on how to find the one that’s best for your specific needs.
Here are ten questions to help you narrow down your search for a financial advisor.
1. How Long Until You Retire?
Not everyone retires at 65. If you’ve done extremely well in business, real estate, or other ventures, you might be hoping to retire at 45. Retiring younger poses an entirely different scenario for your financial advisor, because the task of prolonging your wealth and your lifestyle will look very different.
And some people keep working well beyond 65, even into their 70s.
Once you get into your 60s and 70s, you need an advisor with specialized experience in things like IRA distributions, tax minimization strategies in retirement, Social Security, long term care and other medical costs you may face, as well as helping people at those ages fulfill their lifestyle preferences and plans for their heirs.
It’s a very different skillset than what you need from a financial advisor when you’re 30 and just got married.
2. How Do You Manage Your Money?
Do you manage it yourself? Do you rely on the retirement plans offered at your company, like a 401k? You might also be working with another advisor already, perhaps a robo-advisor, but know you need to upgrade.
Some advisors prefer to work with people who have some prior understanding of investing and financial planning. Others do better with clients who know little to nothing about managing money. Again, you want someone who understands people like you.
3. How Much Wealth Do You Have?
Different financial advisors have different minimum investment requirements. These could range anywhere from $50,000, $250,000 or even $1+ million.
Be clear about this from the start. If you find an advisor like Pillar that you really identify with, but they have a minimum liquid asset requirement of $1 million, and you have $400,000, don’t try to be an exception to the rule. You’ll just use up everyone’s valuable time, including your own.
Advisors do this for many reasons, but the main one is that with increasing wealth comes increasing complexity. Brand new financial advisors generally aren’t ready to work with wealthier clients. It’s too much responsibility to place on someone who doesn’t have the experience.
Make sure you fit the specializations of your advisor.
4. How Involved Do You Want to Be?
Do you want to play a large role in your financial decisions and investment strategies, or do you prefer to let it ride, trusting your advisor to do what’s best to reach your goals?
Some people have a hard time relinquishing control. Others are dying to do so because they want to spend their time doing other things. Find a financial advisor who matches the level of involvement you want to have in your financial planning.
5. How Often Do You Expect Communication?
Some investors want weekly updates. Others prefer monthly, or quarterly, or even just annual ones. Think about your preference about this, and also, think about your reasons why.
For instance, if you want weekly updates, is that because you’re afraid something might go wrong, or because you like to stay informed? Is it from fear, or from curiosity?
If an advisor offers a different level of communication than you expect, talk to them about their rationale for their approach. Maybe you’ll find you’re okay with it. Or maybe you’ll realize this isn’t the best person for you to work with.
Also, how do you want to receive that communication? By email, in the mail, or perhaps also with occasional personal phone calls? Or do you prefer an online portal you can log in to whenever you want? You can find financial advisors using all of these methods, and combinations of them.
6. How Comfortable Are You with Investing and Money?
Your values about saving, risk, and money will determine the quality of your relationship with your financial advisor. You must find someone who understands your values and can work within them so you’re both empowered and aligned with each other.
Questions like, “How do you respond when the market crashes?” [link to Blog 4 on market volatility] can help you figure out your values.
Other things to consider:
- Do you rely mostly on savings accounts and conservative investments?
- Do you take part in day trading?
- Are you drawn to things like futures and options, commodities, and other specialized investment categories?
- Do you prefer to put your money in something and leave it there untouched?
- What is your relationship with debt?
- Do you know what you want to do with your money the next 20 years?
- What produces more joy in you: Spending, giving, saving, or a combination of these?
Discussing your values and beliefs about money can take a long time if you let it, but you’re looking for a financial advisor who won’t be constantly making recommendations that go against your preferences. If you keep feeling pressured by your advisor to change how you work with money, like a parent who won’t let their teenager stay out too late, you probably have clashing values about money.
7. What Is Your Life and Work Situation?
If you’re married, do you have joint or separate accounts? Do you think of your money as ‘his’ and ‘hers’, or as ‘ours.’ Your financial advisor must understand your choices in these areas.
Do you have kids? If so, how much do you financially support your kids, and how much do you expect them to figure out on their own?
Do you have a business? Some financial advisors specialize in working with business owners and entrepreneurs.
8. Do You Need Additional Financial Services?
As your wealth increases, so does your potential need for additional services. Common services needed by high net worth and ultra high net worth families include help with estate planning, strategic tax accounting, and insurance.
Most financial advisors do not offer these services themselves. But especially among advisors like Pillar who work with investors who tend to need them, we know top experts in those fields and can refer you to them. So if you need these services, one smart strategy is to find your financial advisor first, and then build out the rest of your team from there.
9. Am I Getting What I Think I’m Getting?
Here’s where the real challenge begins.
When you sign up with a financial advisor, you expect certain things in return. At the top of that list, you expect your money to grow. And, you expect to reach your short and long term financial and life goals.
But how do you know you’re really getting the best service and the best performance?
It’s hard to know when no easy way exists to compare them to someone else. Even more unsettling is the final question:
10. Am I Getting What I Really Need? Do I Know What I Need?
What if your criteria for selecting a financial advisor is incomplete? What if you’re missing something critically important? Do you know all the right questions to ask?
Do you know the 7 warning signs that you’re talking with an inferior advisor?
The truth is, selecting a financial advisor is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Especially for high net worth investors, the difference between one advisor and another can result in millions of dollars gained or lost. Yes, the stakes are that high.
That’s why we wrote The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Financial Advisor for Investors with $3 Million to $70 Million Liquid Assets.
Click the link below, and learn how to confidently choose the best financial advisor for you.