Monday, September 12, 2016

When to seek a new financial planner

Like great doctors vs. those who are going through the motions, financial advisers vary from high-end wealth management guides to glorified insurance salesmen.

Having an adviser with experience to lead you beyond investment planning is important, since clients with means need to address myriad planning issues. Once you build a significant asset base, you need an adviser who will also provide estate planning guidance, perhaps someone with experience setting up family trusts and charitable foundations. Here are some services that an independent financial planner and adviser will offer:

• Discuss your financial situation and life goals with your accountant, your attorney and any other advisers in your life, and coordinate your financial plans with them. It’s vital to build synergy among all your professional advisers.

• Consult with you closely on the investments within your 401(k) plan, rather than limit their advice to your fee-producing accounts.

• Provide consistent tax planning services, including harvesting tax losses.

• Make thoughtful changes to your investment portfolio during the year, based on changes in the economy, the financial markets and your personal situation.

• Act as your fiduciary in crafting a customized, comprehensive financial plan that hits all the bases from education to retirement and estate planning, always based on your individual needs and goals.

• Maintain a properly diversified portfolio of investments, placing your needs first and always keeping your overall financial plan in mind.

• Communicate with you regularly, clearly explain your investment results and your financial plan, offer transparent information about fees, and respond to your concerns in a timely manner.

If you are dissatisfied in any of these areas, it may be time to seek out a second opinion or begin interviewing potential new financial advisers. Interview at least three advisers, and ask a lot of questions. Look for an adviser who clearly shows how he or she is willing and able to address your individual needs and goals.

This is an industry where you can fly first class or coach for around the same price: Make sure you are getting true value for your money.