WHEN & HOW should you work with a financial advisor?
The short answer: whenever you want your money to start working for you, but don’t have the time, interest, or expertise to do it yourself.
I’m sure sure you’ve heard all sorts of tired analogies that refer to financial advisors as either a car mechanic, a doctor, or a football coach. Well I’ll spare you the sports references, but I will say that a financial planner, like those professions, should be an expert. Like anything else, if you don’t want to learn something yourself- you can (and sometimes should) pay a professional.
There are plenty of things I will pay someone else to do for me- mostly out of convenience. I either don’t know how to do it or don’t have the time to do it myself. If either of those apply to you and your own finances- then you may want to consider working with an advisor.
The flip side is that a basic financial understanding can go a long way. I personally don’t think complicated investments are for everyone. Your goals and budget will determine how complex your finances can or should be, but earning more than you spend and making sure your money is growing aren’t complex ideas! If your situation is relatively straight forward, and you have the time and wherewithal to learn a little, then why not try your hand and managing your own portfolio?
It’s up to you to determine if an advisor is someone who will bring value to your situation. If the answer is yes, consider the following when choosing the RIGHT advisor:
EXPERTISE– Experience doesn’t mean skill. I’ve seen new advisors with well rounded knowledge and older advisors who reuse the same products over and over with little attention to innovation or success.
Just because someone is new to the industry doesn’t mean they don’t know much. Similarly if someone has years of experience they might not necessarily be the best fit for your goals. Consider what type of people your advisor usually works with. Do they have experience working with clients that are in a similar situation as you?
TYPE OF ADVISE- Take some time to think about what you expect from an advisor. Do you want her to call you with new investment opportunities? Do you want her to meet with you every few months to review your finances? Different advisors manage their clients differently. Additionally, some advisors are really knowledgeable with life insurance and others are stock gurus. Determine what kind of advisor are you looking for and then be upfront with those who you are vetting.
RELATIONSHIP– Most investment institutions you go to will be able to offer you a mutual fund or cost analysis. They typically use similar software and have access to the same financial solutions/ products. Working with a financial advisor means meeting with this person at least once a year, sharing your goals, and being honest about your finances.
Find someone who you respect, trust, and ultimately like working with. I believe this is the most critical when choosing someone to work with.
FEES– There are sereral different ways advisors can charge you. Consider what you are paying and what you are getting in return.
I truly believe finances can be made clear enough for the average person. If you educate yourself and dedicate time to learning and managing a portfolio, then you might not need an advisor. On the other hand, if you’re not sure on how to protect or grow your assets- then paying a professional can be worthwhile.
There is no dollar amount or net worth one should have before working an advisor. It comes down to your time, expertise, and willingness to either learn yourself and/or pay someone else.