Broker Check

10 Questions You Should Ask Your Advisor

| November 08, 2017
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With over 200,000 financial advisors across the country, how do you know which one will be the right fit for your situation and personality? (1) The financial advisor you choose to handle your family’s wealth will have a significant impact on your confidence, investment strategy, the fees you pay, and your confidence in your financial future. This is not a decision to take lightly, especially since each advisor has a different level of service, expertise, and ability.

Often, when you find a good advisor, you can develop a strong relationship that can last a lifetime and even through multiple generations. As such, you should take your time to find an advisor that meets your family’s needs. When you start your advisor search, ask potential candidates these 10 questions:

1. What’s Your Industry Experience?

Experience is essential when you’re working with a professional of any kind, especially someone handling your finances. Don’t be shy about asking an advisor about their industry experience. It will give you peace of mind to know what market conditions they’ve experienced and how many years they’ve been working in the industry. I have nearly a decade of industry experience as an advisor and as the leader and founder of ClearVista Financial.

2. What Financial Services Do You Offer?

Not all financial advisors can provide comprehensive financial planning. Some cannot sell insurance or securities, such as mutual funds or stocks, if they don’t have the appropriate licenses. Ask a financial advisor what services they provide. At ClearVista Financial, we provide financial planning and retirement planning to pre-retirees and 401(k) plan participants. Our goal is to serve as your financial guide as you work toward and live in retirement.

3. What Do You Specialize In?

Many clients are drawn to financial advisors based on their experience and expertise in certain specialties. They know that their unique situation needs someone who can competently and confidently handle all the intricacies. At ClearVista Financial, we have focused our energies on understanding the multifaceted set of financial worries people face as they approach and enter retirement. We have a deep knowledge of the challenges, fears, and goals families experience as they work toward their retirement.

4. Who Do You Serve?

Some financial advisors specialize in serving a specific demographic or level of investable assets, so you’ll want to find this out before choosing an advisor. Our typical client is an average hard-working family. They have raised families and saved over the years on modest incomes. They typically are pre-retirees or newly retired and have saved between $250-500k. They are looking for someone to help them prepare for retirement and protect what they have saved. They are active in their churches and communities and love to spend time with their families.

5. What is Your Planning Philosophy?

It’s important to work with an advisor who shares a similar planning and investing philosophy as you. If you’re nearing retirement, you may not want to work with an aggressive stockbroker, whereas if you’re new to investing, you may not want to be too conservative. Talk with an advisor about how he or she guides clients’ investing and financial decisions.

Our financial planning process begins with a comprehensive understanding of your current life situation and your life goals. We then build a baseline scenario of your financial life using our innovative Spend Life Well Model™, a dynamic economic approach that focuses on helping to maximize your living standard over time, rather than just the size of your nest egg when your retire. This approach makes it easier to understand the costs and benefits of your financial choices, and lets you model scenarios that are interconnected, just like your real-life choices.

6. Who Else On Your Team Will Be Working With Me?

At some firms, you may work with multiple financial advisors depending on your appointment time or needs, while other firms may pair you up with one financial advisor with whom you’ll work one-on-one. This is important to know so you can meet the other team members with whom you might be collaborating. One of the key strengths of ClearVista Financial is our extensive use of talented professionals. Along with our team of advisors, we can partner with CPAs, attorneys, and other professionals, based on a client’s needs.

7. How Much Do You Charge?

Financial planning and investment costs can be confusing. And too often, financial advisors don’t readily disclose their fees. At ClearVista Financial, we believe it’s important for our clients to know our costs upfront and how we get paid. During an initial consultation, we review all fees and investing costs before implementing any strategies. We want our clients to feel comfortable with their strategies and confident that they are no hidden fees eating away at their hard-earned savings.

8. Do You Receive a Commission?

Some financial advisors working with big wirehouses earn their income on commissions. The problem with this is that advisors working on commission may be inclined to sell products that aren’t best suited for a client’s needs. The financial representatives at ClearVista Financial offer investment advisory services on a fee-only basis. The better your investments perform, the more we earn. Avoiding conflicts of interest, we instead focus on what we believe will best meet your goals and needs.

9. Are You a Fiduciary?

An advisor who serves as a fiduciary accepts a responsibility to put her client’s interests first and foremost in all decisions. A fiduciary is supposed to avoid conflicts of interest and remain unbiased in her recommendations and advice. As an independent advisor, I agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, and as a fiduciary, I believe in transparency and that the client comes first.

10. Have You Ever Violated Any Standards or Laws?

It’s a good idea to check an advisor’s credentials and run a background with regulatory agencies. Some advisors may have been subjected to disciplinary action if they violated any laws or if a client took action against them. You can look up an advisor’s professional history by visiting FINRA’s BrokerCheck. This database will also show you the years of experience an advisor has and the licenses and credentials he or she has.

Next Steps

Take your time and trust your intuition when selecting your advisor. The relationship should feel right and you should never feel pressured to make a decision quickly. An advisor should be happy to answer these questions and any others you may have about how they operate.

At ClearVista Financial, we focus on managing all the potential risks in their financial lives rather than simply performance. I enjoy being able to tell someone that has been in the workforce for many years that they can retire. I also enjoy being a part of my client's life...to counsel them when needed, comfort when experiencing pain or loss or just simply to pray for them about a specific need.

If you’d like to learn more about our answers to these questions or any others you may have, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can start today by contacting us for a no obligation, face-to-face consultation. Email me at mtrice@clearvistafinancial.com or call  800-491-4508.

About Mark

Mark Trice is an independent financial advisor with nearly a decade of experience in the industry. As the founder of ClearVista Financial, his mission is to help people find financial balance in their lives and to spend life well. Along with providing financial planning and retirement planning to pre-retirees and 401(k) plan participants, he is also an educator. He currently holds the designation of a Certified Financial Educator® through the Heartland Institute of Financial Education. Mark has offices in Austin, Brownwood, Temple, Houston, and Waco, Texas. Along with serving clients in Texas, he also works with individuals in California, Colorado, West Virginia and Virginia. To learn more, visit www.clearvistafinancial.com or connect with Mark on LinkedIn.

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(1) https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132052.htm

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