Hiring a financial advisor is a smart step on the road to financial security and independence. But new data from New York Life Investments reveals that women's experience with advisors isn't as positive as it could be. A good 40% of female respondents feel that financial professionals treat women differently from men, and 26% feel that they have less access to financial education than they should.

And it's not just women who are average earners who feel this way. Though an estimated 70% of women with investable assets above $250,000 work with an advisor at present, 38% are less than completely satisfied with the professionals they've chosen. Not only that, but 67% of women change advisors because of poor service or lack of a personal connection.

Older, short-haired woman on cell phone with serious expression


It's crucial that you feel not only comfortable with your financial advisor but satisfied with his or her services. If that's not how you feel at present, here are a few things you should look for as you seek out someone new to manage your money.

1. Someone who understands your unique needs and challenges

Women often struggle to save appropriately for retirement, and the reason often boils down to the fact that they earn less than their similarly qualified male counterparts. Throw in the fact that women tend to live longer than men, and it's no wonder so many are concerned about running out of money during their golden years. As a woman, it's imperative that you find a financial advisor who can understand, and perhaps even relate to, these concerns, and who can help you devise a plan that accounts for them.

2. Someone who respects your appetite for risk

Not everyone's risk tolerance is the same. For some people, loading up on stocks is enough to make them lose sleep. Other investors, meanwhile, can see their portfolios lose 10% of their value in a day and barely flinch. Finding an advisor who understands and respects your personal tolerance for risk is a crucial part of establishing a long-term financial plan, so don't even think about working with someone who pushes investments without recognizing how the risk involved might affect you mentally.

3. Someone who's transparent about fees

Financial advisors, like all other professionals, need to be paid for their services, but understanding how that fee structure works is an important part of building a trust-based, long-term relationship. Normally, advisors either are paid on a commission basis or take a fee as a percentage of assets under management. The latter is generally a preferable arrangement, since it motivates them to grow your assets and discourages them from pushing mediocre investments that offer generous kickbacks.

4. Someone who's a fiduciary

Some financial advisors hold to the suitability standard, which means they must recommend investments that are suitable choices for you. Other advisors, however, act as fiduciaries, which means they must put your best interests ahead of theirs. Finding an advisor who holds to the fiduciary standard is ideal, because it effectively means that you always come first -- as you should.

There's no need to settle for a not-so-great financial advisor when there are plenty of respectful, knowledgeable professionals out there. If you're not satisfied with your advisor, don't hesitate to find a better one. After all, it's your money and future at stake.