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When It's Time to Break Up With Your Financial Advisor

By Todd Campbell - Feb 21, 2016 at 8:20AM

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Tips to know when it's time to fire your money manager and take your business elsewhere.

Image source: Flickr royalty-free/Corbis.

Because close relationships are often formed between a financial advisor and a client, parting ways can be complicated  If you think you might be nearing a point when you need to make a change, here are some signposts that could help you make your decision.

In the same lousy investment and reasons "why" no longer ring true?
Don't get me wrong. We all make mistakes and unless your financial advisor has a crystal ball, he or she will, too. Mistakes should be expected, and investment managers should be graded on how well they handle them, rather than judged unfairly simply because an investment idea doesn't pan out. After all, a financial advisor's returns should be evaluated over the long term (think years), rather than the short term (think months).

Image source: Flickr user Nicolas Raymond.

However, if you're already taking the long view and you still feel like you're stuck in an endlessly poor-performing investment, then it's time to sit down with your advisor and have a heart-to-heart about your concerns. If your advisor's reasons for sticking with the investment don't ring true, or her response leaves you with more questions than answers, then it may be time to set up a date with someone else to handle your finances.

A sale in the works
Investment managers often have different investment styles, and despite your advisor's best efforts, new managers or corporate mission statements could mean changes in how your money is managed. Sure, change can be good, but make sure you fully understand the impact of your advisor's move on your nest egg before following her blindly to her new home.

If your advisor is approaching retirement age, it may also be a good time to ask if her move is part of her exit strategy. If it is, find out what the plan is to transition you to another advisor once she leaves and make sure that new advisor is someone you find trustworthy. If not, pack your bags.

Less than responsive
Like most high-pressure industries, financial advisors get pulled in a lot of directions and because of that, they may not be as available to you as you might like them to be for unscheduled pop-ins and phone calls.

It's always best to schedule a time to meet or chat by phone and to carefully consider any financial questions you'd like to have your advisor answer beforehand. Planning ahead will make sure you get your advisor's full attention and the most help. However, if your advisor continuously cancels your appointments or you get the impression they view you as an inconvenience, breaking up may be the best move for both of you.

Tying it together
Like any healthy relationship, communication is key. You may find that talking openly and honestly about your concerns with your advisor solves your problems and strengthens your bond. However, if your concerns fall on deaf ears, then begin searching for someone who'll be more in tune with your needs. Breaking up is never easy, but sometimes investors need a fresh start and a new set of eyes. 


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