Your financial adviser is a trusted member of your personal and business team, tasked with looking after your hard-earned financial wealth so that you can look after your family and reach your financial goals.
While it needs to be based on trust, like any relationship, it is bound to change over time and it is important that this relationship doesn’t become one of routine or complacency. Your financial adviser should be up to date with your financial situation and goals at all times and should work hard to align those with appropriate products and financial services, in response to any shifts in the market.
Not sure your financial adviser is completely focused on your needs? Here are five questions you should ask him* today:
1. What products are you looking at for me?
You probably know if your financial adviser is tied to a particular financial institution or works independently. This will have an impact on what kinds of products he can offer you. If he is independent, he should spend time understanding your personal and financial situation – this is part of his due diligence – finding out where you are in life, your future needs, and your big plans and dreams. Understanding you in this way will help him to recommend products that will best suit your needs, from childhood education funds to retirement planning.
2. How many clients do you have in the same position as me?
Some financial advisers specialise in certain areas and certain age groups (often similar to themselves). You want to work with someone who understands your individual needs and current financial situation. Expertise and experience go a long way towards sound financial advice. If you have particular issues to deal with and your financial adviser is not an expert, it might help if he/she is part of a group or firm with experts in different fields.
3. Are you attending any interesting talks or seminars this month?
The financial industry changes all the time. Not only does your financial adviser need to be formally educated, he should be constantly learning and studying the markets and current and future trends. Ongoing education (of both himself and his clients) is a sign of an invested financial adviser, one who is curious about the sometimes volatile world in which he operates, and who has a true passion for learning more about his chosen profession. Not to mention sharing those learnings with his clients!
4. What’s your succession plan?
You’ve invested time and money in your relationship with your financial adviser and you trust that he will be there to look after your wealth. However, what happens if something happens to him and he is not able to be your adviser? It’s important to find out what his succession plan is. Is he part of a firm? Which of his colleagues will be looking after you if he no longer can? Whatever the plan, the expert level of service and advice you are used to should not change.
It’s also a good idea to ask if your financial adviser’s firm would be handling his own and his family’s money in the event of his death. The answer should be ‘yes’ – why work with someone who doesn’t trust his own firm?
5. When will we speak again?
Some financial advisers have a plan of when and for how long they will see a client. These meetings might start off fairly regular but they need to continue this way. It is no good hearing from your financial adviser once a year. By that stage, so many decisions will have been made on your behalf. It’s worth nothing when your financial adviser does call, ensuring that you have regular contact.
Some of these questions might be difficult to ask but they are worth it in the long run – it’s important to work with a financial adviser that is truly invested in managing your finances and future wealth.