A 2019 Northwestern Mutual study found that U.S. adults who work with a financial advisor report “substantially greater financial security, confidence, and clarity than those who go it alone.”
The value of working with a financial advisor varies by person and advisors are legally prohibited from promising returns, but research suggests average additional investment returns can range from 1.5% to 4% more each year.
The Rules of Thumb blog from MoneyThumb wants to make sure before you choose a financial advisor, you take into account the following 7 tips:
1. Hire an Advisor Who Is a Fiduciary
By definition, a fiduciary is an individual who is ethically bound to act in another person’s best interest. This obligation eliminates conflict of interest concerns and makes an advisor’s advice more trustworthy. If your advisor is not a fiduciary and constantly pushes investment products, you don't have a financial advisor who has your best interest in mind.
2. Don't Hire the First Advisor You Meet
While it’s tempting to hire the advisor closest to home or the first advisor in the yellow pages, this decision requires more time. Take the time to research a financial advisor before you hire them, and even interview at least a few advisors before picking the best match for you.
3. Don't Choose an Advisor with the Wrong Specialty
Some financial advisors specialize in retirement planning, while others are best for business owners or those with a high net worth. Some might be best for young professionals starting a family. Be sure you have a firm idea of what exactly you need from a financial advisor and only hire the one that specializes in your points of interest.
4. Make Sure Your Strategies Match
Each financial advisor has a unique strategy. Some advisors may suggest aggressive investments, while others are more conservative. If you prefer to go all-in on stocks, an advisor that prefers bonds and index funds is not a great match for your style. Make sure you choose an advisor who has the same vision for your future that you do, or who is eager to listen to your plans.
5. Always Check Out Credentials
To give investment advice, financial advisors are required to pass a test. Ask your advisor about their licenses, tests, and credentials. Financial advisors tests include the Series 7, and Series 66 or Series 65. Some advisors go a step further and become a Certified Financial Planner or CFP. Do an online search of the advisor. Ask for references of those the financial advisor has helped in the past and actually contact them.
6. Understand How They are Paid
Some advisors are "fee-only" and charge you a flat rate no matter what. Others charge a percentage of your assets under management. Some advisors are paid commissions by mutual funds, a serious conflict of interest. If the advisor earns more by ignoring your best interests, do not hire them.
7. Search for Advisors from Professional Listings
Chances are, there are several highly qualified financial advisors in your town. However, it can seem daunting to choose one. To help you find the best financial advisor for you, check out this great tool offered for free at Smart Assets. You can get matched with up to three local fiduciary investment advisors that have been rigorously screened for regulatory disclosures and to confirm their licenses. The entire matching process takes just a few minutes.