By Clifford York
The last several months have tested us in almost every aspect of life.
Markets continue to swing back and forth. Investors are wading through the emotions that come with life-altering challenges: shifting priorities, health scares, job loss, managing back-to-school options, protests. Tensions are high, and trust is wavering.
This unexpected set of circumstances is reshaping the way we see the world, our leaders and the people we trust to manage our money.
What are you looking for in an advisor that you hadn’t considered before? What will it take to maintain trust in a world full of misinformation?
Our clients sometimes confess they’re more anxious about meeting with us than with their doctor! Why? Money remains an intimidating and sometimes taboo topic. Earning your trust should be your advisor’s No. 1 priority.
Here are three questions that can help you reflect on your feelings about economic conditions and on the relationship you want with your advisor.
1. Can I trust you with my money?
It’s a question on many investors’ minds, particularly when they begin a relationship with a financial advisor or feel the need to react to volatility. Are you confident in your financial plan? You should be. How does your advisor ensure your wealth is handled with care? Do they have data privacy and procedures to keep your information secure and reflect your decisions? Your advisor should be able to explain fees, outline the benefits of a clear financial plan and lay out the communication methods they use.
2. Are you going to put my interests ahead of your own?
The American Association of Individual Investors reported a few years ago that 65% of Americans don’t believe that their advisor — or the firm they represent — acts with their best interests in mind. Without question, you should be working with an advisor you trust. Ask about their firm’s code of conduct. Ask if they are a fiduciary and to articulate how that affects the way they do business. The bottom line: Your advisor should be able to demonstrate that their business is built around helping you achieve your goals before anyone else’s.
3. Will you inform me of something I need before I know I need it?
This is where the great advisors separate themselves from the good ones. To serve investors in this way, advisors need the technology, support and back-end processes to innovate and anticipate your needs. Great advisors build a relationship with you, so they can understand your financial philosophy to help you reach your goals. Have recent events changed the way you think about money? Is money a source of stress, intimidation, relief or something else? Is your advisor working to understand your perspective and counsel you accordingly? When they understand how you feel about money, they can offer you more personalized advice and services that fit your needs.