Handling finances well can be a challenge for the best of us. It is scary when you are dealing with your hard-earned money. If we are left alone, most of us will keep our money under the mattress where we can see it. This is not a healthy mindset regarding money and won't be very safe, especially if you have siblings.
If you don't take medical advice from your neighbor, don't take financial advice from them either. It is better to go to an expert than shoot an arrow in the dark. You should assess your requirement and look for a financial advisor who best suits your situation.
There are many questions to ask a financial advisor but you may begin your journey of financial planning with this question -
What type of financial advice are you looking for?
When you decide you will take a financial advisor's assistance, it is time to question what kind of financial advisor you need.
For those who are just starting their investment journey
A Robo-investor may be the best option if you have just chalked out your financial goals and are looking to start investing. It may be helpful if you only require it to manage your finances.
The advantage of using such a service is that they charge a low fee. These software-based services choose and manage an investment portfolio for you. Since these services usually have no or minimal account balance requirements, it can be an excellent place for you to start, if you are a beginner investor.
If you still have doubts or questions, the Robo-investor will connect you with its breathing colleague, i.e a human financial advisor that will answer all your questions.
For those who don't have time and would prefer to have an online consultation
Getting online consultation works out best for those who might not have the time to meet their advisor in person or those who have to travel constantly for work. An additional benefit of online consultation is that you'll have to pay less for the same service you would get otherwise.
You can connect with independent financial advisors or go to companies that provide these consultations. You will contact your advisor virtually, either on call or in video meetings.
For those who prefer an in-person consultation
Suppose you wish to consult with your financial advisor in person. In that case, you can connect with an independently practicing financial planner in your locality or go to a firm that will connect you with one of their financial advisors.
If you have a more complicated financial situation, this might be the best option for you as this provides the most precise communication, and the chances of miscommunication are zero percent.
Questions you should ask your financial advisors
Consulting with your financial advisor can feel more complicated than a maths lecture at school. It can also sometimes feel like getting scolded by your parent, or maybe that's just me.
But you don't have to be intimidated. Here is your cheat sheet. In other words here are 10 questions to ask a financial advisor :
1. Are you a fiduciary?
You may wonder why I am making you put these questions to your financial advisor when you don't know what they mean. Don't worry, I have got you covered, keep reading.
So for those of you who don't have a clue what a fiduciary is, understand it like this :
A fiduciary financial advisor is your friend (who charges money of course) and takes financial decisions in your best interest.
On the other hand, a non-fiduciary financial investor receives a commission on the products/profiles they recommend to you. A non-fiduciary financial investor will also make decisions in your favor while keeping their cut in mind.
2. How do you get paid?
Advisors use different kinds of fee structures. To keep things simple and avoid conflicts of interest in the future, go for a fee-only advisor. Fee-only advisors usually don't take a commission for selling products. Make sure to clear this out with your financial advisor in the beginning only.
Fee-only advisors sometimes may charge a percentage of your assets that they manage, something like 1%, a service fee or they may charge you per hour.
This can be a little expensive. If you don't wish to spend so much, you can go for a Robo-advisor, they charge much less money.
3. What are my all-in costs?
Other than paying the advisor you'll have to give additional fees. Ask your advisor what these are. These fees can decimate your savings over time. So you would want to be clear with your advisor on this.
It is best if you have these things straightened out since the start. It can be not easy to discuss them as time progresses conclusively.
4. What are your qualifications?
Financial professionals usually love to show off their qualifications but in a rare instance, they may be cagy about it. It is your job to know that the person entrusts your hard-earned money and financial future is qualified and knows what they are doing.
5. How will our relationship work?
This sounds dramatic, straight out of a romantic drama but it is not. If you don't want your life to become a scam drama it is good to clear these things with your financial advisor in the beginning.
Ask your advisor how and when you guys will meet. Try to learn more about how these things usually work, so you know what to expect and hold your financial advisor accountable if he underdelivers.
6. What's your investment strategy?
Make sure your financial philosophy is compatible with your advisor's investment strategy. This is important because you will have to believe in your advisor's decisions and live with them.
7. What tax hit do I face if I invest with you?
We all love to pay taxes.
That's not true at all and everyone knows this. But don't take this for granted. This question helps in reminding your financial advisor to keep your taxes in mind when making financial and especially investment decisions.
Asking this question will give you an understating of what you get at the end after paying your dues i.e the fees and taxes.
8. What asset allocation will you use?
You must have heard about the importance of being diversified. To create a diverse portfolio, you must allocate your assets accordingly. Your portfolio should include domestic and international stocks and small, mid-and large-cap companies.
9. Who is your custodian?
Your financial advisor is most likely to hire an independent custodian, such as a brokerage, to hold your investments ( rather than being their custodian).
But beware there have been instances where financial investors have defrauded their clients. A famous or ill-famous example of the same would be Bernard Lawrence Madoff. Madoff was an American financial advisor who defrauded his clients through a $64.8 billion Ponzi scheme.
So this was a list of 9 questions to ask a financial advisor. My intention was not to scare you but make you aware so you can take charge of your financial future and ask your financial advisor questions with knowledge and confidence. I hope this helped!
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