April 19, 2005
Let's talk about your needs. Now, stop thinking what you're thinking. This is a financial website, after all. Still, in terms of fulfilling relationships, finding the right fit for your finances is essential. Whether it's meeting the tax pro of your dreams or going gaga over your discount broker, your needs come first.
Money isn't everything when it comes to a mate, and it shouldn't be your only consideration when shopping for a financial advisor. As you've probably discovered a few times in your life, you truly do get what you pay for. Once you compare the black-and-white services an advisor offers, it's time for your first date. Here's a financial advisor questionnaire (.pdf file) you can refer to on your initial meeting.
When it comes to non-face-to-face financial products like an online brokerage account, you'll have to do a bit of soul searching. Even if all you want is bare-bones service, make sure that a discount broker offers what you need and will use. There's no use in paying for banking privileges if you plan to never write checks from your account. And if it's face-to-face transactions you want, then make sure your broker has a walk-in branch nearby.
Dim the lights and pour yourself a glass of merlot while pondering the following:
- Does the broker have all the investment vehicles you are looking for, such as mutual funds or bonds?
- Does the broker have a local office? Is that important to you?
- Does the broker offer banking services?
- Does the broker provide research tools? Is that important to you?
- Is there phone/email support? Is it 24-hour support?
- Are the freebies or perks enticing?
- Is the broker hot? (I'm just saying... if it matters to you.)
Our discount broker comparison table (a side-by-side look of our broker sponsors) gives you an idea of the things that Fools find important. Shop around, compare special deals, and find your perfect match.