The continuously shifting investment climate, the sheer number of investment products to choose from and the emergence of employee-driven retirement savings plans, such as 401(k) plans, have all contributed to the increased need for qualified financial advice. No matter what your level of investment experience or sophistication, you may benefit from developing a relationship with a financial advisor.Financial Advisor: What’s in a Name?
A qualified financial advisor is trained to analyze your personal financial situation and prepare a program designed to help you pursue your financial goals and objectives. It might be helpful to think of your financial advisor as a kind of doctor for your financial health. Financial advisors (also called financial planners or financial consultants) can earn certifications or designations by completing accredited courses of study. Financial advisors are often trained as accountants, lawyers, insurance agents or stockbrokers—all professions that have a relationship to different aspects of your financial well-being. Because of this association with another profession, a financial advisor frequently will specialize in a specific type of financial planning, such as retirement planning or estate and trust planning.
Financial advisors are usually compensated in one of three ways. They may:
- Charge a fee for their time and service, but sell nothing.
- Give free advice, but charge a commission on transactions involving investment products such as mutual funds, stocks, bonds and insurance products.
- Charge both a fee and commission on transactions.
Benefits of Working With a Financial Advisor
Most people can benefit from professional guidance when they venture into the complex world of managing their financial affairs. A financial advisor will be able to assess your risk tolerance, analyze your resources and current asset allocation, take into account your tax liability, and make investment recommendations in the form of a written financial plan. The plan should help ensure that your current and future assets are used to their best advantage given your financial situation and financial goals.
Building a Strong Relationship
Knowing what to expect from a financial advisor can help establish a long and successful relationship. Here are some preliminary questions to ask to help you evaluate whether an advisor would be a good fit for you.
- What is your educational background?
- What, if anything, did you do before becoming a financial advisor?
- Do you offer specific or general recommendations?
- Will you help implement these recommendations?
- Do you offer financial advice on non-investment issues, such as estate law or taxes?
- If so, at what point would you bring in someone else to help?
- How do you keep in touch with your clients?
Once you have established your investment goals and objectives, your advisor will create a plan and review it with you. Among the plan’s key objectives may be ensuring that you have sufficient insurance, that you have cash reserves to meet unexpected financial needs and that specific short- and long-term goals are addressed. The plan may also involve reallocating some or all of your assets into more suitable investments aligned with your risk tolerance and investment goals. In addition, the plan should recommend where to invest future assets (regular savings or lump-sum payments), and how much you will need to save to work toward your financial goals.
After you and your advisor have agreed on and implemented a plan of action, all you need to do is schedule annual financial reviews to make sure the plan continues to work to your satisfaction and that none of your goals have changed over time. For example, be sure to inform your advisor if you have a major change in your life, such as a change in marital status, the birth of a child, a change in income or the receipt of an inheritance.
By deciding to consult a financial advisor, you have begun to take charge of your finances. Over time, your advisor may become a trusted friend and confidant. And together, you will have implemented a strategy to help maximize the earning power of your assets.
A little more about us:
Compass Financial is an independent, fee-based financial advisory firm in West Des Moines, Iowa. The Compass Team helps individuals and families develop an inspiring vision of their financial future and a realistic strategy.
By listening closely to our clients’ true needs, wants, hopes, desires and dreams we are able to combine Wealth Management and broad Financial Planning customized to each individual situation. It’s our goal to assist you in developing a personalized financial road map. The results from the process should include confidence that comes from planning. As we all know, life happens, sometimes ambushing the best laid plans. Accepting a new reality and adapting the financial plan is work we have done many times for our clients.
We also offer Financial Check Up or Second Opinion Services to those who want to enhance the service they are already receiving. This should lead to a better understanding of your current plans and give added confidence to your existing advisor relationship.
Sometimes life’s biggest challenges come in the form of transitions, retirement, marriage, health issues, divorce, unexpected loss, or even college savings. Our team at Compass has experienced many of these life transitions, it’s our hope to come alongside you and your family. These defining moments of life provide opportunities to implement financial strategies that can have long lasting impact. The first step is always the most difficult, but can also be the most rewarding. Please Contact Us today to receive your free, no obligation, one hour initial consultation!