We have no lack of options these days. Whether it’s choosing a restaurant or finding a doctor, there are so many choices that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and doubt your decision. When it comes to choosing a financial advisor, the stakes are even higher. How do you know which one will be the right fit for your situation or personality? How do you know if you’ll like them or work well with them?
The financial professional you choose to handle your family’s wealth will have a significant impact on your 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, experience, and ability. Taking all that into consideration, it’s vital to take your time finding an advisor that meets your needs and makes you feel at ease. So, when you start your advisor search, ask potential candidates the following 10 questions.
1. Are You a Fiduciary?
There’s a reason this is the first question—its importance cannot be overstated! An advisor who serves as a fiduciary accepts a responsibility to put his or her clients’ interests first and foremost in all decisions. A fiduciary is legally required to avoid conflicts of interest and remain unbiased in their recommendations and advice.
How can you know for certain that an advisor you’re interviewing is a fiduciary? The firm will either be listed as a Registered Investment Advisor or the advisors on the team will hold certifications that hold them to the fiduciary standard, such as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Chartered Financial Analyst®, or Certified Public Accountant professional designations. Keep in mind, if the advisor doesn’t fit those descriptions, they may still act as a fiduciary in certain situations, like sharing a recommendation, but not necessarily when selling products.
Center for Wealth Management believes in transparency and honesty, doing what we say and finishing what we start—for your benefit.
2. Do You Hold Any Credentials?
We take credentials seriously, and we think you should too. Credentials and education play a critical role in your advisor’s competence. There are hundreds of designations in the financial services field, and some are more applicable to your needs than others. (1)
All advisors on our team hold the CFP® certification, which requires comprehensive education and experience. In addition, we also have team members who are Chartered Financial Consultant® and Chartered Life Underwriter® professionals. As a firm, we pursue education and credentials because of how dedicated we are to providing unparalleled client service.
Use a designation-check database to learn more about the credentials financial advisors can earn, and ask the advisors you are researching what they do to continually hone their skills and stay up to date in the industry.
3. What Is Your Planning and Investment Philosophy?
It’s important to work with an advisor who shares a planning and investing philosophy similar to your own. Does your advisor stick to a scientific, evidence-based approach? Do they believe in buy-and-hold or do they move to cash when the market looks shaky? Talk with an advisor about how they guide clients’ investing and financial decisions.
At Center for Wealth Management, our investment strategies are customized to your unique goals and needs so you can maximize your growth while protecting your wealth. While we believe in the power of technology, you can rest assured that a robot is not managing your money. Our experience and education have taught us that active management can improve results by reducing risk or increasing returns. We don’t choose investments until we’ve analyzed multiple metrics to determine if it’s right for you.
4. How Much Do You Charge?
Financial planning and investment costs can be confusing. And too often financial advisors don’t readily disclose their fees. We prioritize transparency, so our clients always know what they’re paying and what they’re receiving for their money. We want our clients to feel comfortable with their strategies and confident that there are no hidden fees eating away at their hard-earned savings.
The most common way we are compensated is by an assets under management (AUM) fee based on the value of your assets and an annual retainer fee for consultative planning services, such as financial or tax planning.
5. Who Do You Serve?
Some financial advisors focus on serving a specific demographic or level of investable assets, so you’ll want to find this out before choosing an advisor. Why is this important? Because you deserve advice and services tailored to your unique needs.
Our advisors focus their attention on four separate demographics: DTE Energy employees, engineers, pre-retirees and early retirees, and young professionals. Each of these groups has unique challenges and resources. That means they need an advisor who will speak to where they are at and give them the advice that empowers them to make financial decisions. Our experience in these areas allows us to give you the advice that will make the most difference in your life.
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. While you will have a strong relationship with your primary advisor, everyone at Center for Wealth Management works as a team to offer you the highest level of service. We spend a lot of time getting to know our clients and their goals, and we strive to put your dreams at the heart of your financial plan.
7. What Financial Planning 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, whether or not they have a focus, and if they offer a broad spectrum of solutions to meet your needs. When creating a plan together, be sure to ask your advisor why they are recommending particular services and solutions over others. Center for Wealth Management’s comprehensive services include retirement planning, asset management, risk management, estate planning analysis, tax strategies, retirement planning, business succession planning, and more.
8. What Sets You Apart From Other Financial Advisors?
We know that you have plenty of options to choose from, but there are a few things we do differently:
- We don’t use cookie-cutter plans or algorithmic technology to develop your investment portfolio. Our plans are centered around you and your life and you can experience confidence knowing that your future is being looked after.
- We build our client relationships on integrity, dependability, and accountability. We are passionate about what we do, and confident in how we do it.
- Our specialization allows us to develop plans that strive to maximize the resources available to you, reduce taxes, prepare for retirement, and protect your family. Instead of trying to be your own financial planner, worrying about something slipping through the cracks or innocent mistakes, you can be confident that someone you trust is carrying your financial burden and watching out for your future like it’s their own.
9. Do You Offer a Client Portal?
We believe it’s important to see the big picture and all the moving parts of your financial life. When you decide to work with us, you will have access to Investor360, where you can see all your accounts in one place, view performance reports, and check your financial plan documents. You can access these platforms through our website or by downloading the apps.
10. How Can I Know if Your Firm Is Right for Me?
When selecting your advisor, the relationship should feel right and you should never feel pressured to make a decision quickly. We offer a complimentary consultation, where you can ask questions, evaluate our processes and services, determine if our personality is a good fit, and get the information you need to make an informed decision.
Don’t Rush Into Anything
An advisor should be happy to answer these questions and any others you may have about how they operate. If you don’t know where to start, ask friends and family for referrals to set you down the right path.
At Center for Wealth Management, we believe in complete transparency and want our clients to feel comfortable working with us and asking us questions. If you’d like to learn more about our answers to these questions or any others, don’t hesitate to reach out to us by calling (248) 220-4321or emailing email@example.com. You can also schedule a meeting by visiting www.calendly.com/cwmrob/initial.
Robert Moore is senior partner, financial planner, investment advisor, and co-owner of Center for Wealth Management, an independent, fee-based wealth management company based in Troy, MI. With more than 15 years of experience, Rob provides customized advice and solutions that are in the clients’ best interest. He strives to always go above and beyond his clients’ expectations, helping them retire with more security than they had before, and invest their time and energy in what’s most important to them. Rob specializes in working with DTE Energy employees, helping them maximize their benefits so they can reduce taxes, prepare for retirement, and protect their families through a comprehensive planning process. Rob graduated from Michigan State University and holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) certifications.
Rob is known as a diehard family man who enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, Jill, his daughter, Brookelyn, and his son, Brayden. When he’s not working, you can find him playing basketball once a week, squeezing in a round of golf, and watching college football and basketball with friends and family. He is passionate about enriching the lives of others through his church involvement and service at a community addiction program. Learn more about Rob by connecting with him on LinkedIn.