Choosing A Financial Advisor
With so many financial advisors trying to woo you with their qualifications and experience, how do find one you can trust your finances with? 'Trust' is the keyword here, as you will depend on him/her for your future financial security. A good financial advisor can help you determine which investments are best suited for you, based on your financial goals. He/She will also be able to help you with a savings program to build your assets.
First and foremost, identify your own needs i.e. your risk-tolerance, insurance needs, taxes and whether you want short-term or long-term benefits. Once this is done, choosing a financial advisor becomes easy. Seek references from your friends and get inputs about their own experiences. You then need to interview the advisor and ask him questions about his experience, track record, services provided, investment approach and educational credentials. Gauge your level of comfort with the advisor as you are looking for a long-term relationship. Never hesitate to ask whatever is on your mind; however foolish the questions may sound. Always remember that it is your money and your future.
Ensure that your financial advisor has the time to meet you frequently, perhaps once every three months and explain everything you need to know. He/She should be able to provide you with a quarterly assessment and advice you on any change in strategies. To get this one-to-one personal advantage, select a smaller firm than a larger one with an exhaustive clientele. Make sure that you choose an advisor who is compensated on a fee-only basis rather than on brokerage commissions. Advisors who work on commissions are obviously placing their own financial gains above your efficient financial management. They may recommend frequent and unnecessary transactions to derive benefits from them.
Your advisor should be able to understand your investment style and risk tolerance. He should have the experience and the knowledge to accurately supervise your investments. Someone who has counseled clients and experienced market fluctuations will never let you down. If your advisor has started, managed or owned a business, he/she will have experience that might benefit you. In some cases a formal educational background compensates for a lack of practical experience. But, in any case, it is important that a your advisor works in a team and has experts to fall back on.
Finally, find out if the advisor has any complaints or disciplinary actions on file. For brokers and securities firms, call the NASD's Public Disclosure Hotline and to check on Registered Investment Advisors, call the SEC's Investor Education Hotline. Be careful that you don't handover your hard earned money into unsafe hands. Above everything, use your own judgment. If you want your finances to flourish with time, it is essential that you choose the right advisor.
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