CuVantis Education Series

Working with a Financial Advisor

Unfortunately the financial services industry has done a terrible job at earning consumer’s trust. So much so that many investors choose to go it alone. And while managing your finances is not brain surgery, it’s not like hitting the “easy” button either. It takes constant vigilance, research and education to stay informed on changing tax laws, product innovation and financial trends. If you’re comfortable doing all these things, then doing it yourself is an option. But if you’re not comfortable tackling all this on your own, then you may need the help of a financial advisor. The challenge is that there are a lot of different types of financial advisors out there who offer a wide range of services, and charge for those services in a variety of ways. How do you find one who’s right for you?

The first place to start is to interview several advisors until you find one with whom you feel comfortable. You should be able to get a feel for their approach and determine if their style is appropriate for you. The biggest thing you should look for is someone who is interested in getting to know you. Most advisors that you would want to work with will welcome the opportunity to get to know you before diving into the planning process. In fact, if an advisor starts talking about products and investments (other than to explain the services they offer) before asking a number of questions about you, that is probably someone you want to avoid.

When interviewing a financial advisor there are several questions you should ask:

– How long has the advisor been in the business and what experience do they have? If it seems light, ask what kind of support they have available to them.

– Who are their significant business partners and what role do they play in supporting you and the advisor? These partners may include an account custodian, back office support, investment managers, brokerage firms, insurance agencies or other money managers or vendors.

– Find out what professional designations or licenses they hold. At CuVantis, our Advisor Representatives will hold either a FINRA Series 65 or 66, or have a professional designation such as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), Charter Financial Consultant (ChFC) or Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC) at minimum. Advisors who sell commission-based products will have either a FINRA Series 6 or Series 7, along with a Series 63. Any advisor who sells insurance or annuity products must also hold appropriate state insurance licenses.

– What services do they offer? Do they provide comprehensive financial planning and investment management ? Or do they specialize in just one facet of the industry?

– What is their approach to money management? Do they act as both financial advisor and money manager, or do they outsource any portion of their services? Do they utilize active money management, passive, or both?

– What is their approach to the client relationship? How will they provide ongoing service to you?

– How will you pay for their services? Do they receive commissions, charge for services rendered, or assess a fee for assets under management? What is a typical fee schedule?

– Do they use an agreement that defines the scope and responsibilities of the client-advisor relationship? While almost all investment advisors and fee-for-service advisors will have some type of client agreement, very few commission-based advisors do so. Again, it is not a requirement, but an agreement does a good job of getting in writing exactly what each party is responsible for and can help to avoid mismatched expectations later in the relationship.

– Finally, check the FINRA BrokerCheck website to determine if the advisor has had any regulatory actions taken against them. Disclosure items should not prevent you from working with an advisor, but the advisor should be able to explain the circumstances around the disclosure event.

Once you’ve selected an advisor, you should expect to provide them with complete information regarding your financial situation, goals and risk tolerance. The advisor will then analyze that information and provide either a written plan or professional assessment, along with suggestions on strategies you can use to achieve those goals. Depending on complexity, the initial engagement usually takes anywhere from 1-4 meetings, with ongoing interactions 2-4 times per year.

For more information or to request an appoint with a CuVantis Financial Advisor, please complete the form below.

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