How to Choose the Right Financial Advisor

Financial planning is one of the most important things we can do to prepare ourselves for a successful future, whether that future includes sending your kids to college, paying for a fairytale wedding, building a dream home or retiring comfortably. But financial planning is a complicated process, because no two people are the same, and everyone has different goals.

In addition, there is so much to know and to keep track of - stock market fluctuations, economic forecasts, risk tolerance, financial goals, investment goals, portfolio performance, etc. - that it is important to work with a financial advisor and wealth management team working toward your financial objectives and goals.

The problem with choosing the right team is that there are tens of thousands of financial planners and investment managers out there. How do you know which one is right for you? Here are some things to consider:

1) Do you want a firm that takes a one-size-fits-all approach to financial planning, or do you want to work with an advisor who customizes a plan for you based on your specific goals?

2) Do you want to work with someone who represents one company's investment products, or would you prefer to work with an investment manager who has access to a variety of companies and products?

3) Do you want an advisor who mails out quarterly statements but never calls, or would you like someone who checks in with you regularly to discuss your portfolio's results compared to your goals?

4) Would you like to work with a firm where you work with whichever advisor answers the phone like a customer service call line, or do you want a relationship manager that responds to you personally, knows you by name and truly cares about your financial success?

5) Do you want an advisor who only has a fiduciary responsibility to offer products and strategies that will fit your situation, or do you want an advisor like a Registered Investment Advisor who is required to put your financial needs first?

If you want a generic, one-size-fits-all, don't-bother-me type of advisor, then just about any advisor will do. You hand over your money, he or she invests it, and then sends periodic statements.

However, if it is important to you to work with an investment management firm that will customize a financial plan that meets your needs, understands the market, represents various companies and who really wants you to reach your goals, then make your choice more carefully. Interview several wealth management firms, get referrals from trusted friends and family and make the best decision for your financial future.

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