There are those of us who find it difficult to ask for help in life. But if there's one area you don't want to be stubborn about, it's your finances. Hiring a financial advisor could spell the difference between meeting your money-related objectives and struggling to keep up, and new data from Northwestern Mutual further drives home this point.
In a recent study, 67% of Americans who work with financial advisors say they have clarity on how much to spend versus save. Meanwhile, only 44% of adults without an advisor say the same. Just as importantly, 54% of Americans who work with financial advisors feel very financially secure compared to just 21% of those without an advisor.
If you're concerned about your finances or simply want to make sure you're on track to meet your various goals, then it pays to consider bringing an advisor on board. And the sooner you do, the greater an impact that professional might have.
Finding the right financial advisor
The challenge in finding a financial professional to work with is that not all advisors are created equal. In fact, there are so many unscrupulous advice-givers out there that most Americans don't trust their financial advisors.
So how can you identify the good ones? Your best bet is to start by asking for recommendations. If you have a friend, neighbor, or colleague who can vouch for an advisor, that's a piece of reassurance you won't get by going in blind.
Otherwise, look for an advisor who's open about his or her fees. Let's face it: Financial advisors have to make money and they generally do so by either earning commissions on the investments they buy for your portfolio or by charging you a fee that's a percentage of your assets under their management. Generally, the latter approach is more reassuring for you as a client because it means your advisor is less likely to recommend something just to make money -- but that isn't to say that commission-based advisors are all dishonest, either. More than anything else, your advisor should make a point to proactively disclose those fees, no matter what they happen to be, and as long as yours is doing that, it's a positive sign.
Another good quality for an advisor to have is being honest about risk. There's really no such thing as a risk-free investment, and any professional who undersells the possibility of losing money is doing you a disservice. Rather, your advisor should help you understand the level of risk you're taking on in your portfolio and work around your personal tolerance when recommending investments.
Along these lines, your advisor should also aim to educate you on investing and making smart financial decisions. If yours tends to throw fancy financial terms around without explaining what they actually mean, it's a sign that you may want to look elsewhere.
Finally, be sure to choose an advisor who isn't judgmental. We all make mistakes in life and we all have our own priorities, but it's not your advisor's job to make you feel bad about either of those things. Rather, a good advisor is one who will work around your habits and constraints and help you make smarter choices going forward.
Though having an advisor by no means guarantees financial success in life, hiring one could bring you all that much closer to meeting your financial goals. Just as importantly, having a professional in your corner might buy you some much-needed peace of mind -- and that's reason enough to consider getting some help.