5 Common Problems with Financial Planners

When we meet with prospective clients who are currently working with a financial planner or advisor, and they become clients of Glassman Wealth Services, it’s usually because of one thing: they are unhappy with the service they’re currently getting from their advisor.

We rarely gain a client because they were unhappy with investment performance. Instead, they tell us that they are looking for something different. They want someone who listens, who doesn’t speak over their heads with unnecessary jargon, and they’re looking for answers to their individual questions.

We have found that there is an overwhelming theme and consistency within their unhappiness, and it’s important to listen and learn from these concerns.

1. The Financial Planner has a conflict of interest with their investment advice

Whether it’s a variable annuity, a life insurance product, or investment fund, it’s important for clients to know that the recommendations they’re receiving are in their best interest. Many clients find out after a transaction has been completed about the healthy commission check the planner/advisor received for offering their advice. (They should thank you for their new kitchen!!)

The job of a financial planner is to help individuals and families make important decisions that greatly impact their retirement goals, philanthropy initiatives or even generational giving. We believe that these decisions must only be made with the best interest of the client in mind. (You’ll hear more about the benefits of a working with a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) and the importance of fiduciary responsibility in future articles.)

2. The Financial Planner is set in their ways and doesn’t think “Outside the Box”

Many financial planning firms use financial planning software which can be time-efficient and scalable throughout their client base. A large drawback we have found is that some financial planners just fill in the data inputs and don’t think through the recommendations the software is actually producing. By thinking about the client’s situation “outside the box,” we are able to come up with more creative, personalized solutions that work better for our clients.

As an example, when meeting with a client recently, we changed how we presented their investment information based on our knowledge of how the client views their assets. This simple change in formatting provided clarity, and our clients told us that it helped them in their decision-making process.

3. Lack of continued education

A financial planner twenty years ago is much different than a financial planner today. Clients need to have confidence that their advisor (and their team of support advisors) is up to date on current technology, investment solutions, tax laws, and estate planning opportunities. Requiring your advisor to be a CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™, is a great way to demand continued education because each CFP® is required to complete educational credits every two years.

4. Lack of time to communicate and discuss problems as they come up

A simple annual plan review, phone call, or even meeting is often not enough. Clients demand that their financial planners or advisors be available throughout the year. The client relationship is not a “set it and forget it” relationship, and continuous dialogue is a must for a successful relationship. This includes daily monitoring of client accounts, through technology, to make sure the client’s portfolio remains in line with their objectives.

We have had several clients join Glassman Wealth Services because their prior planner did not continue to review their portfolio once it was established. As a result, cash was allowed to build up to 10% or more for no reason. That seems to be a lazy excuse to lose a client.

5. They’re not comfortable bringing in outside experts

A client should expect that their advisor be current in investment strategies, tax issues, and estate planning opportunities. In many cases, it’s in the best interest of the client (and planner) to bring in an expert on a specific issue whether it’s someone in-house or at a third party firm.

We have had great success holding “Advisor Summits” for clients that are going through important life decisions (ex. selling a company, big estate planning decisions, etc.). We quarterback the meeting that often includes their CPA, estate planning attorney, and their life insurance professional. It’s amazing how much can get done when you have all the experts in the room rolling up their sleeves, sharing ideas and working collaboratively to achieve the best results for their client.

Demand Excellence

Finding the right planner or investment advisor is an important decision for a family, and there is no reason to accept anything less than a person or firm that demands excellence of themselves.

What are problems that you have experienced with your financial planner or advisor? What is most important to you when choosing a new financial planner?

Travis Russell, CFP®
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