Financial advisors come in lots of shapes and sizes, and that can make finding -- and sticking with -- a financial advisor who's right for you tricky. Although there are no hard-and-fast rules to finding a financial advisor who will be the perfect match, here are five things that they shouldn't be doing to win your business.
No. 1: Should not be a jack-of-all-trades
It may be tempting to want to find someone who can do a little bit of everything, but there are times when an expert makes more sense... and this is one of them. Every financial advisor should have a core competency in managing common asset classes, such as stocks and bonds, but everyone has something that he or she is really good at. Great financial advisors should be telling you right up front what that is.
For example, some financial advisors focus on inheritance issues, or specialize in managing wealth for people in certain careers, such as doctors. If your financial advisor promises to be great at everything, he or she may know a little about a lot of things, rather than a lot about a couple of things -- and that may not be best for you and your money.
No. 2: Should not accept every client
Some financial advisors avoid minimum investment requirements because they're afraid of turning away clients, and those financial advisors may be worth shying away from. While there are exceptional financial advisors who are willing to open their practices to investors of any size, a minimum investment level can indicate a healthy, thriving practice with fewer clients; and that can mean more time to focus on your needs, rather than someone else's.
No. 3: Should not rely on pricey products
When financial advisors agree to manage hard-earned wealth, they take on a big responsibility that they should be compensated for. However, if a financial advisor's practice is built around selling you pricey products, such as back-end loaded mutual fund shares (Class B shares for those interested) or annuities, then the financial advisor may be more interested in padding his or her pockets, rather than yours.
No. 4: Should not embrace excessive turnover
Regular contact with a financial advisor can be a hallmark of great service; but if a financial advisor is continuously calling you to make changes to your portfolio, it could be a warning sign. It's been proven time and time again that investing for the long haul is the best way to accumulate long-term wealth, and that short-term trading does little to bulk up your nest egg. For that reason, it makes sense to find a financial advisor who shares a long-term view rather than someone who's continuously buying and selling various investments.
No. 5: Should not skirt my questions
Financial advisors are busy people, and that means that dropping by without an appointment isn't the best plan for getting their full attention. Instead, schedule a meeting that will last long enough for you to ask questions, including hard-hitting ones like how they get paid. Then, don't leave until you have answers that you can understand.
Tying it together
Finding a top-notch financial advisor can help you achieve your financial goals, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be educating yourself about your investing options, crafting a long-term investment plan, and following through on it. After all, the more educated you are about investing, the better able you'll be to make thoughtful and profitable decisions with your financial advisor.