Finance seems like a big scary word. Even scarier, is trusting someone else with your finances. Here are a couple of quick tips to be smarter with your hard earned money, and not let fear get in the way of financial freedom.
- Use your personal network. Ask your friends and family if they use an investment advisor. Ask what their experience has been and if they could recommend an advisor to you.
- Do your research. Word of mouth referrals are great but you have a responsibility to yourself and your family to find a reputable advisor. A great start is to use the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC)’s website for Investment Advisor Public Disclosure. You can search for both firms and individuals. There you will find a lot of helpful information, such as how long the firm has been in business, who are the key personnel, how much money they manage and what are their minimum account sizes, amongst other items. Use the internet to check the firm’s website and also check biographies of the firm’s wealth management team.
- The next step would be to set-up an in-person meeting with two or three advisory firms. You will want to approach these meetings with as much detail as possible. Bring current bank and brokerage account statements, estate documents, as well as wage and tax records. Be clear with your personal goals and objectives. Be realistic with what you want to achieve and the time frame with which to do so.
- Be cautious of advisors who are too eager to take your account. This is a dual interview and you want to ask questions of them to ensure it will be a good fit. After all, you could have a long-term (5-50 year) relationship with your advisor until you hit retirement or beyond. Make sure you take the time to have all of your questions answered and don’t feel rushed to make a decision. A great advisor will have multiple follow-up meetings with specific investment proposals. They should send you home to review the proposal and give you time to make an informed decision. Communication is huge and you can test drive their follow-up skills during this process.
- Ask for references. Just like you were hiring a subcontractor, you may want to ask for personal references from existing clients. Not only should you ask for references but actually call a couple of them. Ask what their personal experience has been and how satisfied they are.
- Take the plunge and hire the advisor that you think would be the best fit and would do the best job for you. Everyone’s goal is to retire comfortably. How you get there is your choice. Do you want to invest conservatively into mutual funds and bonds or do you want to invest aggressively into stocks? You also can take advantage of alternative assets like investing into real estate, limited partnerships, private stock and managed futures, and sometimes you can use your IRA to do that. There are experts in each of these fields. Try to select an advisory firm with multiple qualified colleagues that have a solid team to back them up.
- Lastly, speak with your advisor about how to leave your legacy. Yes, you will want to cover your own retirement but what happens if the unspeakable takes place? A wealth advisor should have estate attorneys, insurance professionals and tax accountants at their fingertips. It’s important to think beyond our generation and know that your financial footprints are left in good hands to the ones you love.
Dorra Tang is Director of Client Solutions at Exeter Financial LLC. She is a registered representative and general securities principal with the Series 7, 63 & 24 licenses. Securities are offered by BMA Securities, Member FINRA, SIPC, MSRB. She is also the Chief Operations Officer of Platform Scottsdale, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving women a platform to meet, mentor and connect with like-minded women. For more information visit exeterfinancial.com and platformscottsdale.com.