What are you looking for in a financial advisor? Is it enough to fit the clichés of “someone I can trust” or “they’re with a big firm so they must know what they are doing”? Assuming trust and competence are a given – if you’ve done your homework – what about someone with whom you can have an honest interactive conversation? This may sound simplistic, but it is hugely important when it comes to YOUR money.
A recent article suggested that over 70% of widows fire their financial advisor within a year after their spouse dies. While the reasons are myriad, communication is thought to be the biggest obstacle. Failure of the advisor to speak in language the client could understand and failure to validate the loss of a spouse are two of the reasons suggested for the breakups. To eliminate the need to rebuild the team in the 9th inning, you may want to evaluate your relationship with your advisors today.
In working with retirees, I often hear husbands say they are seeking advisors who can take care of things in their absence. They want someone who makes their spouse comfortable. Most people need regular face-to-face interaction to develop a relationship. If you are not meeting with your advisor at least annually, it is probably not a good fit. You may be too small or perhaps you are not the kind of client the advisor seeks. If the advisor is a salesperson, they may be more concentrated on acquiring new business instead of providing a high level of service.
I am amazed at the number of affluent investors I speak with who say they have been disappointed in the service they receive from their financial advisors. If your advisor is not seeking out a face-to-face meeting, you should be initiating a conversation. Simple questions like “How do I obtain money from my accounts?” and “How long does it take?” are some key questions you should understand. Another clue to a bad relationship is if you feel intimidated or don’t understand the advisor. Try addressing these items with your advisor first. If, after this conversation, you don’t see improvement, a break up may be necessary. You deserve advice you are comfortable with, and the time to make sure you are in a good relationship is before something bad happens. Expect more and communicate your needs and you may be surprised what can happen.