We are all well aware of the upcoming November election where we have the opportunity to cast our vote for public officials and ballot measures. Though every vote counts, it’s sometimes hard to get that feeling that our voices were heard, even if your preferred candidate or measure came out on the winning end. When it comes to personal finances, however, there is another way to make your voice heard and that is by exercising your own “Investor Bill of Rights”.
It gives us no pleasure to draw this comparison, but a financial advisor can sometimes act in the same manner as a politician. As they are courting your vote, promises of service and working in your best interests will be used to draw you in, but once they are in office (or you are in their office), their actions begin to show things differently. It often turns out that they are working in their own best interests and self-preservation rather than your own. Working with an advisor can have a tremendous impact on your financial well-being, so it’s time to make the following demands:
Conflict free, and unbiased advice – the only way to build trust between you and your advisor is if you know they are completely working in your best interests. That means no upselling of products, commissions, or special services that ultimately cost more money.
Personal service – the whole reason you hire an advisor in the first place is because you want them to help with your own personal situation, which inevitably is going to be different from your neighbor next door. That means custom solutions and services that are tailored to your own needs.
Communication and transparency – the investment world is filled with financial jargon and ‘black box’ investment strategies. If your advisor cannot explain their thoughts and strategy using everyday conversational language, then the outcome usually falls short of expectations. Ask questions so that you understand and feel comfortable with what’s going on.
A flexible and fair fee schedule – since the level of advice and personal service you need may be different from others, it stands to reason that your fees may be different as well. Make sure there is an alignment of what you are charged, relative to what you receive.
Pro-active and problem solving advice - it’s relatively straight forward to plan for what lies in front of us today, but how about looking into the future to plan for life changes and unexpected events? Life is uncertain, and for many, getting good advice during these transitions may be the most important consideration.
Tools to stay organized – having a strong foundation in your family’s finances is a lot more than just having good investments. It also means having the tools and assistance to help stay on top of things. Advisor software can go a long way to help in in budgeting and organizing everyday life details.
When it comes time to cast your vote for your personal finances, “Vote early and vote often” to make sure your voice is heard. It will make a difference.