A financial advisor should understand every aspect of a prospective client’s financial life and frankly – take too much time with them — by design. It’s important to learn their goals and dreams, as well as their challenges and fears, and that means developing relationships that are both professional and personal.
By getting to know clients on a deeper than surface level, I become a trusted advisor —much more than merely a friend or resource. I don’t take that position lightly, especially when my care and concern result in clients choosing me as a confidant.
A female attorney, prides herself on being financially independent. She stands to gain half of her conservative parents’ $20 million estate at some point in time, but she doesn’t want to rely on that windfall. Her parents don’t know she’s gay and we have discussed the pros and cons of coming out to them many times, with her ultimately deciding to honor their beliefs (and not tell them). That kind of conversation might be out of the comfort zone for some advisors, but it’s necessary to understand her entire financial situation.
Another potential client has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from her father, but he insists his broker manages it. She asked me to review her portfolio, and I gave her my opinion that it was not being managed in a way that would help her realize her financial goals. For some advisors, that might have been the end of the story, but it was just the start for me. I gave her the same advice I’d give anyone who is beholden to someone else when it comes to their money: show the person you know what you’re doing and that you’ve surrounded yourself with people you trust. In this case, the goal was to make the woman’s father comfortable with letting her make decisions about her money.
These two examples illustrate how important it is to have an advisor who really understands what makes you tick and what your goals are, today and in the future. Knowing the whole picture, instead of merely a snapshot, will ensure you receive the advice that’s best for your situation. And, because that situation can change over time, it’s also important to meet regularly with your advisor to discuss any life changes that have occurred, such as marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, starting a business, taking a new job, etc. I check in with clients every quarter to ensure my advice remains relevant or address new developments.
When you interview advisors, you likely will be bombarded with information about asset allocation, tax planning, retirement strategies and the like. But for me, there’s more to financial planning than that. An advisor’s “handholding” quotient is also important; will he or she really get to know you and then be there for you through thick and thin, even if all you need is someone to talk to? My clients know I’m there for them — and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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