Do You Need a Financial Advisor?
I believe most people can implement simple steps to improve their financial lives without the use of an advisor.
Before investing in the stock and bond markets there are a few key financial to dos that should be checked off first. You may review our blog post on the subject here: Should I Start Investing Now?
Once those items are checked it's time to start investing. For most people I recommend a very simple approach starting out. Buy a few low-cost index funds that track all parts of the investable world. It doesn't need to be complex until your investable assets get above $100,000 or so. You may review our blog post on the subject here: How Do I Start Investing?
Finding a Robo-Advisor
Robo-advisors are low cost alternatives to financial advisors. They are driven by technology and supplemented with human advice. These are great options for someone who has a little to invest but doesn't want to do it themselves. The services get you set up online quickly and efficiently and many offer the ability to speak periodically with a call center advisor.
Here are three options for Robo-Advisors:
Finding a Financial Advisor
If you choose to work with an advisor I have listed some resources for finding reputable advisors below. The wonderful part of technology is you are no longer forced to use an advisor in your zip code. Increasingly customers are utilizing advisors virtually that meet their unique needs rather than being geographically convenient.
Here are some networks that would be a good starting point to finding and researching an advisor.
Fee-Only Network: Fee-Only advisors never earn commissions or sell products. The Fee-Only network vets financial planners for strict fee-only and ethical obligations.
XY Planning Network: Regardless of your age or assets, XYPN has a directory of fee-for-service financial advisors that are dedicated to working in your best interest.
CFA Institute: The CFA Institute offers an online directory to find and connect with financial advisers who have committed to adhere to their rigorous ethical standards.
NAPFA: The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors offers a directory to search for fee-only financial planners.
Choosing a Financial Advisor
In the end you want to work with an advisor you are comfortable with.
Questions to Ask Them
If I was hiring an advisor I would ask two questions. Are you fee-only? Are you a fiduciary? If the answer is no to either then keep looking. After that ask them what experience they have with working with people in your situation. Beyond that keep it simple and find one whose personality you like.
If you need help thinking of questions to ask them, feel free to use this guide: Questions to Ask Financial Advisors.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Do I like, trust, and respect the advisor?
- Do the benefits outweigh the cost?
- Do I understand and agree with their investment approach?
- Do their financial planning recommendations make sense?
Brian Berkenhoff, CFA