In a recent Instagram post I mentioned how Uma Thurman was taken US$ 1 MM by her financial advisor. Cases like this are extreme, however, we should acknowledge we are giving our financial advisor a lot of responsibility and in 99% of the cases we really do not know who they are.
A financial advisor works for an institution that offers a service. They have goals to comply with. You must feel comfortable that even though he/she has goals to comply he will only offer you the products that fit your investment profile.
The first thing you should know about your advisor, is how he is being paid.
Does he have a monthly salary? Does he get a commission for every product he sells? How much is this commission? Does he get a larger commission for certain products? Ask him these questions, if he does not want to answer, is not for you.
Your advisor’s interest should be aligned with your interests.
Yes, he had to comply with goals, yes, he needs to make money. But he will do it anyways having you as a client, however, he doesn’t be making it at your expense.
The second issue is the advisor’s technical knowledge.
Most advisers are sales people. Some institutions have an investment team, and they assign an investment specialist to the advisor. If you don’t understand or feel your advisor doesn’t have the technical knowledge, ask to talk to the investment specialist. You can ask the advisor if he had to pass certain certifications. Most advisors should pass the Series 7 exam, this will give you some credibility. He can also be a certified financial planner.
The third aspect is that we are talking about a human relationship.
He should fit your personality and communicate well with you.
He could be great with the technical stuff but when it comes to dealing with your needs he might not understand them. In the other hand, he could be great on the emotional connection, but is not well prepared on the technical issues.
Most importantly you must trust him as a person.
This person, whom you just met will be handling your money. Many people laugh when I say this, but for me is like starting a relationship with a boyfriend. He can be great in the “technical stuff” and he could also comfort your “emotional side”. But who is this person you are starting a relationship with.
At my firm, we do a lot of due diligence on investment managers before we select one to be in our list of “investments”. This due diligence not only limits to the technical understanding of their product but we also want to know about their personal life.
Why? Because how a manager, or in this case a financial advisor, behaves in his personal live affects his professional life.
If an advisor has always driven a Toyota Camry and one day he buys a Ferrari, won’t you find this troubling? Maybe he is making more money, maybe he won the lotto. But is a pattern that differs from his regular lifestyle so you should ask.
Think about the boyfriend analogy. Wouldn’t you be at least curious if one day he shows up with a Ferrari instead of his Camry? What does this change in behavior says about him.
Handling money is a difficult task. As an advisor, you deal not only with the investments but most importantly with human beings. It is a difficult job.
As a client is difficult to find a good advisor. But they are many, just do your due diligence.
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