Need to get your finances in order? What to look for in an adviser

When managing your own finances is no longer a wise or viable option, it’s time to seek the help of a professional financial adviser. The qualifications and business models of financial advisers do vary, so it’s important to evaluate advisers and their firms prior to making a decision. There are a number of points to consider.

Experience

Similar to anything else that’s important to you and your family, working with an experienced professional can make a meaningful difference. Additionally, you may want to review an individual’s credentials. There are a number of financial planning designations, and if these are earned it may indicate a commitment to the business. Question to ask: How many years have you been doing specifically what you do now?

Business model

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With most professions, there are different ways of doing things and the financial advisory business is no exception. financial advisers have different styles and investment philosophies. None of these differences are necessarily right or wrong. As a prospective client, it’s important for you to understand exactly what the financial advisers does for his or her clients and determine if you are a good fit. Questions to ask: What exactly do you do for your clients? What type of client experience can I expect?

 

Employment history

During a long career it’s certainly reasonable for a financial advisers to work at a few different firms. Some branch out and establish their own firms. If a financial advisers switches firms excessively, however, you may want to find out why. Questions to ask: Which firms have you been with during your career? Why did you switch firms?

Team

Financial advisers sometimes have teams that support their business. In all likelihood you will interact with team members frequently, so it’s worthwhile to inquire about them. Questions to ask: Can you tell me about the roles of your different team members? How long have you worked together?

Clients

Financial advisers cannot be all things to all people. In recognition of that, financial advisers usually focus on a certain type of client or situation. Your optimal experience as a client will likely take place if you fit into that niche. Question to ask: Can you describe your typical client?

Fees

First understand that if you are hiring someone to manage your finances, you are not a candidate for a do-it-yourself platform. You have chosen to pay someone so you can have time and sanity back in your life. There are a few different methods of paying for financial services.

The two most common are traditional brokerage commissions, and a percentage of assets under management. Neither is right or wrong and a combination of the two is perfectly reasonable. Questions to ask: How are you compensated? What is your estimate of my annual cost?"

When a client-adviser relationship is unsuccessful, it’s frequently due to expectations not being met. It’s therefore imperative to be open and clear about what you need and expect if you are to work together. If something is not making sense to you, ask for clarification and examples to deepen your understanding.

Jeffrey A. Swett is a financial advisor with UBS Financial Services Inc., a subsidiary of UBS AG. Member, FINRA/SIPC. UBS Financial Services Inc. financial advisor engaged The Hill to feature this article. As a firm providing wealth management services to clients, we offer both investment advisory and brokerage services. These services are separate and distinct, differ in material ways and are governed by different laws and separate contracts. For more information on the distinctions between our brokerage and investment advisory services, please speak a your financial advisor or visit our website. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of UBS Financial Services Inc.


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