Choosing a Financial Planner
Posted September 15, 2018
Don’t laugh at our image. As Bill Gates once said, “Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.” We say be nice to nerds because they can help you reach your retirement objectives. Retirement planning is a chore for most people yet it is also the chosen profession of independent financial advisors. But finding a good one is tough- you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting five or six Denver financial advisors, and that’s just Denver. Colorado Springs financial advisors are luckier since only two or three get hit. We digress..
Aside from our love of cats, let’s chat about choosing a financial advisor. But first let’s lay out the difference between a financial planner and a financial advisor.
Financial Planner Versus Financial Advisor
An advisor can be anyone. Most of us had our first brush with an advisor in high school, and from there you’ve probably been exposed to several advisors such as your insurance agent for your car, or an attorney in a divorce, or even the lady you transact with at the bank. An advisor is a broad term, and by adding the word financial in front of it only focuses on the meaning a bit.
Stock brokers, money and wealth managers, estate attorneys, etc. can all be included as a subset of financial advisors. And Yes, financial planners are also a member of the financial advisory world. Financial planners play an important role in your retirement and estate planning. They are the hub between your CPA, estate attorney, investment advisor, insurance agent, etc.
So when you are searching for “financial advisor denver without cat marks” perhaps you are really looking for a financial planner even though we might use the words interchangeably on our website.
Choosing A Financial Advisor
Choosing a financial advisor / planner requires a lot of due diligence. There are all kinds of certifications such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA). However, like a CPA, just because you are certified doesn’t automatically mean you are competent or good at your job.
There are four things that you must consider when selecting a financial advisor-
Stay away from one-person shows. Does a doctor work alone in the operating room? Perhaps in the morgue.. but you get the idea. You need a team. A team of professionals who are passionate about the financial planning world. Your three-legged stool truly is your tax professional, your financial advisor and your estate attorney. If your financial guy or gal is not a part of a team, look elsewhere. Conversely, don’t confuse a group of people such as a call center for a team. A team has chemistry.
Your team of financial advisors must be committed to excellence, and serve as an advocate for YOUR success. Terms like continuous improvement and six sigma are commandments in the manufacturing world, and they are slowly becoming the same in the service industry. Ask your financial planning team how they will deploy these concepts into your financial world.
WCG (formerly Watson CPA Group) has a large tax unit within our practice. And it pains us on some levels because it is very transactional. People give us their stuff, we prepare a tax return, we collect a fee, and the transaction is complete. Sure, we know our clients- kids, general interests, hobbies, etc. But we only scratch the surface. A financial advisory team must become extremely intimate with you and your family, way beyond the casual conversation you might have with your barista.
Ensure that your financial planner has a wide variety of experiences. While you need a specialist, you also want a specialist with a generalist’s background. There a lot of smart people out there that can’t plan their way out of a paper bag. And now you get charged if you plan your way out of a plastic bag. All kidding aside, find a financial advisor who can speak your language and someone who is not locked into a one-plan-fits-all mentality. Self-directed IRAs? Rentals? Precious metals such as silver? Ensure that unconventional financial planning solutions are being at least reviewed and considered.
Financial Team Expectations
As a financial services client, your team should have expectations of you. First is open, honest and responsive communication. If one of your advisors asks about your favorite food, don’t respond with “Green.” Don’t mitigate. Don’t say what you think people want to hear. Spill the beans and be honest so a solution can begin to develop.
We mentioned staying away from one-person shows in favor of a financial team. You and your family are a part of that team too! The relationship you have with your financial planners must be viewed as a collaboration or partnership where successes and challenges are shared. And Yes, there will be challenges. Behind every overnight success is years of hard work. Get used to it. Embrace it.
Along those same lines is your financial team will expect you to be committed to the financial and estate planning process. Read more about financial planning and retirement objectives here.
Independent Financial Advisor
When we say independent financial advisor, we are not contradicting ourselves. This is not synonymous with a one-person team. Independent financial advisors do not work for big box-stores such as TRowe, EdwardJones, etc. They might be completely independent (self-branded) or work for a broker who allows a lot of latitude such as LPL or Ameriprise.
For example, some financial advisors are pigeon-holed and can only offer solutions that are branded by the broker he/she works for. Remember the early stumbling block of Henry Ford who said you can have any color of the model T as long as it was black. Same thing here. One size does not fit all. Solutions will depend on your investment objectives, suitability and risk tolerance.
Another way of looking at this- the breakfast at a Hampton Inn versus the buffet at the Bellagio.
Colorado Springs Financial Planner
Colorado Springs is a proud military city with many veterans living here on both a permanent and transient basis. Military pensions are being reduced through early-outs or with delayed cost of living adjustments (COLAs). GI Bills for educational savings and Thrift Savings Plans for retirement augmentation are also issues for military personnel. And while USAA hammers us with advertisements about being advocates for military families, they are just an automobile insurance company who added on a banking component. Be careful. Find an advocate for you!