Whether you are looking to change financial advisors or have decided to handover managing your family’s assets to a professional, how you approach the vetting process is crucial to hiring the best financial advisor for you and your family. It makes sense that getting to know the finanical advisors you’re considering often begins with a conversation – either a phone call or in-person interview.
We have had many of these conversations at Glassman Wealth Services with clients prior to them joining our firm. Some came very prepared, ready to ask specific questions that were important to them. Others were less structured in their approach. Regardless of style, this is a major decision for any family and there are things you should consider before interviewing an advisor to get the most value out of your time.
If you haven’t started to search for a financial advisor yet, this article is a helpful place to begin: 6 Steps to Finding the Best Financial Advisor.
So what are the best ways to know if you’re hiring a top financial advisor during an interview process? Here are a few of my recommendations:
Set Up an Initial Call:
The initial phone call often covers general topics such as the services offered, number of clients, or the minimum assets required to work with that firm. You’ll want to know that the advisor and their firm offers the services you’re looking for before any time is wasted with an in-person meeting. At the same time, it’s important for the advisor to understand what your needs are to make sure they match with their offering. The best relationships thrive when the needs of both sides fit together.
Schedule a Meeting:
The first meeting is where you have the opportunity to ask any and all questions about the advisor and their firm. It’s important for you to imagine yourself working with this firm. Can you understand what the advisor is saying or are they talking over you with financial jargon to sound smart? Is the advisor asking about you and your family, or just rattling off facts about themselves? Let’s remember, you’re the one with the assets, and it’s your life that will be affected by the actions of this advisor. The conversation should be about you and how they can meet your needs.
I don’t believe that the initial meeting is the time to get into specifics like investment performance, or how their funds will beat the return of your current portfolio. If you had great performance, would you be in this interview? It’s clear a new solution is needed, and there will be better times to have this discussion.
Instead, use this time to ask about the firm’s investment process, the types of investments they use for their clients, how they track their portfolios (performance reporting), and what the client would receive in terms of other financial planning assistance. Some clients like to “set it and forget it,” but most individuals want to understand what they’re invested in and why.
Other critical things to know include:
- Who will make the final investment decisions?
- What type of research is involved and how many research people does the firm employ?
- How do they evaluate success?
The answers to these questions will provide insight into their investment decision making process and how they construct their client portfolios. From there, you can decide if this will meet your needs.
How Do You Know When It’s The Right Fit?
As with all interviews, most often you “just know”. You click with the advisor and their team, you understand what they’re offering and how it will benefit your family, and most importantly, you trust what they’re saying. We’ve all been in a meeting with a pushy salesperson and felt like they were trying to just make a quick buck. That shouldn’t be the feeling as you drive home from your initial meeting.
There are differences between the types of financial advisors and the services they offer. To get a better understanding, read Investment Advisor vs. Financial Planner: Which is the Best Choice for You? You may also want to consider an advisor that is also a fiduciary. They have a legal obligation to have your best interest in mind when making all decisions.
You want to hire the very best financial advisor for you and your family. That initial meeting is the foundation for earning your ongoing trust.