GuideVine’s CEO, Raghav Sharma, discusses when a couple might need a financial planner or advisor and the dos and don’ts of finding one, with Elle Martinez (@) of Couple Money (@). This podcast was released on December 8th, 2015. [Link follows the transcript]
Announcer: Welcome to the “Couple Money” podcast where we discuss building up your marriage and your net worth. Here’s your host, Elle Martinez.
Elle Martinez: Do you remember how things were the first few months after you got married, the conversations that, maybe fights about the new routines, and how to handle the family finances between yourselves? You might be looking back and cringing at some of the things you did or said.
Money and marriage can be intensely private for a lot of couples. Imagine giving someone complete access to your numbers, fears, and arguments. Not seeing that?
If you’re thinking about hiring a financial advisor, you have to become comfortable with that scenario. But how do you find the right one? To help me out, GuideVine CEO, Raghav Sharma, will share tips, so the two of you not only find a topnotch advisor, but you have one that gels with you, so you can be completely open and honest about your finances.
In this episode, we’ll discuss situations where [a] financial advisor could be a huge help, what you two need to do before you reach out for that advisor, questions you should ask, and red flags to watch out for. We’ll also get into how GuideVine can streamline the process for free. Let’s get started.
Elle: GuideVine is on a mission to find your perfect match with the financial advisor.
Raghav Sharma, GuideVine CEO: We’ve been called Match.com for financial advisors. That’s what we really view as our core, is helping people who want to take control of their finances, but don’t necessarily know how to do it, or need some professional advice, get to the experts and to the people who can provide the services that they’re looking for, and to do it in a very personal way, so that you’re actually connecting to a person, versus a resumé or a web page.
Elle: Maybe smirking right now, but if you think about the conversations you’ll be having, you’re going to be sharing some things that you probably kept pretty close to the vest. You’re going to need someone that you trust.
Raghav: They’re getting in to a fiscally intimate relationship. You’re going to be sharing goals, desires, where the money is, how much there is.
You’re going to, maybe, confronting some uncomfortable truths about your situation, and you need someone who you respect, who you will listen to, and that you really feel trust in that they’re there to do the best for you and not try to sell you something, or not try to take advantage of you.
Elle: GuideVine was started in part, because of the struggles he saw his friends have with finding a financial advisor.
Raghav: It was a wedding. It was two friends of mine, both young professionals, very accomplished. They were getting together and they want to combine their finances. [laughs] If it was up to the husband, they’d keep buying real estate. His wife is like, “You know, I think we could do something different” [laughs] They said, “All right. Let’s find a financial advisor.”
They knew I worked with one, so they asked for a referral to him. It didn’t work out. They wanted someone who is a little closer to home. They did what most of us will do. When they’re thinking about something, is they Google it. So they Googled, “Find a financial advisor in New York,” and they saw a list of names. They said, “OK. What do we do now?”
They looked at the websites. Because of the regulatory environment, all the websites say the same thing, so they couldn’t really tell the difference between anyone. So they set up a bunch of meetings and they felt like they had wasted their time. They said none of the advisors really resonated with them.
They didn’t feel the beginnings of comfort or trust with any of them. They just continued and continued and I had a front row seat in this as I was helping them. I was really this that sparked the germ of the idea of GuideVine.
Elle: You may be wondering when is the good time to get a financial advisor. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re asking this question, then it’s probably a good idea to, at least, start searching for one.
Raghav: One of the most common things we see is actually nothing. It’s life getting more complex. People thinking about, “Well, now, I cannot focus on it myself. I don’t have the time,” or “I’ve moved into territories which are just really unfamiliar to me, and I can’t become an expert on everything, so I need someone in my corner who can do this for me.”
There’s certain life events that trigger people wanting financial advisors. What we see as the most common are people getting a new job, a promotion, or getting married.
That puts them into a different mindset about their finances and thinking about what they should be doing. Then we see other things like people getting divorced, people having children, and going from there. That’s really the triggers that are most common.
Elle: Since your advisor will be working with you in your portfolio, doing some work upfront can pay off. There are a few things you want to ask and check before you sign up with anyone.
Raghav: There’s a lot of prework and a lot of questions that you should be asking yourselves as a couple.
First is what are your goals out of life, how aligned are they, and what do you think you need in terms of services, whether it’s someone who can help you with the financial plan, whether it’s someone who can help you with the will or estate planning? What are the things that you think you need to help you get those goals?
These things may not align. Spouses, partners, significant others, they may not see eye to eye. Actually a lot of couples turn to financial advisors, because they need almost, not a referee, but they need someone who can help them sort through these competing priorities, and come up with a common vision.
Once you get those questions answered, what we recommend to people, is building a shortlist of advisors. Talking to referrals or getting referrals from friends, using services like GuideVine to find an advisor that meets the criteria that you’ve laid out.
Looking at their online presences, looking at their credentials, looking at their regulatory history, seeing that they actually offer the services that you want. Many people have their fees and their compensation model out there.
Once you got that shortlist of advisors, taking the time to interview three, four, maybe even more of them, because there’s a variety of advisors, and people don’t have exposure to that, so they don’t necessarily know what they could achieve, or what types of people they could work with.
We always recommend people meet with at least five advisors. That sounds daunting. That sounds like a lot of time, but hopefully, this is five, ten, maybe even more year relationship that you’re going to have with someone. So it comes back to taking that time.
Elle: While there are plenty of talented and well‑intention advisors, there are some who don’t have your best interest at heart, so how do you protect your finances and weed them out?
Raghav: Once you get in the room with them, one of the first things for couples is you want a financial advisor who is going to start off the meeting, they want to work with both you. They want both of you involved in the process, in the decision making.
It’s a red flag if the advisor just turns to one person and focuses on them, or he tells one of the people in the couple, “Look, don’t worry about it. Just tune out and we’ll take it from here.” That, as a couple, is not a financial advisor you want to work with.
Elle: Besides those red flags, make sure, if you haven’t already, to double check their regulatory history. It may uncover some bad eggs.
Raghav: The regulatory history is fascinating because it’s all there for consumers to find. I think it’s a single most overlooked thing. We’ve seen things in people’s backgrounds that we were, “Oh. Wow.” [laughs] . Yes, it’s best not to talk about them. We were shocked that these people could be practicing financial advisors and have these things in the public domain that people don’t bother looking at. It just shocked us.
Elle: We covered a lot. You might think that you don’t have the time to do the search. Well, GuideVine might be the shortcut for you then.
Raghav: It’s completely free for consumers. We take people through a Match.com style process where we ask them a bunch of questions about what they’re looking for, what money they’re looking to put the work, if they’re looking to put money to work, life stages that they’re in, anything else that helps us narrow down a set of advisors. Then, we give them ten choices of advisors.
We show them videos of every single advisor, because we think, showing the advisor in real life, talking about themselves, about what makes them tick, what would it feel like to work with them, is what sets the personality and starts to build that level of comfort that a consumer might say, “Hey, I want to work with her. Let me pick up the phone and set up of an hour meeting.”
Really everything, any meetings or reach outs are initiated by the consumer. The advisors aren’t even aware that people are looking at them until someone sends them a message or calls them, and says, “Hey, I saw you on GuideVine,” or ” I came into GuideVine, and I think there might be something here, and I’d love to either talk on the phone or Skype, or walk into your office and spend an hour or two talking about what we could do together.”
That’s what the vast majority of people do. There’s a few other ways. We have consumer concierges who, if you’re struggling to know what questions to ask, or what you might be looking for, or you’re looking at your matches and you can’t quite tell the difference between them, we’re happy to jump on the phone and help people think through those choices.
The third is we have a set of directories where people are little more self‑directed, and they just want to filter through by, “OK. I’m a dentist and I’m looking for someone who can do college planning and estate planning. I have $250K. I don’t care where they are in the nation as long as they’re registered to work with me. Let me see who pops up.”
Elle: In case you’re curious, GuideVine has some tight protocols for financial advisors before they become part of the network.
Raghav: For advisors, what we do is, one, we only work with fiduciary advisors. We don’t work with people who aren’t governed by that “having to work in the best interest of the client’s all the time” standard.
We enforce certain size and experience minimums to get on the platforms, so that that way, people are working with experienced advisors who have the necessary processes and work tools in place, so that nothing goes operationally wrong. Then, we interview them to make sure we’re a good fit for them and they’re a good fit for us, so there’s an alignment of interest.
For anyone who wants to come on board, we do a due diligence on them. We look at their regulatory background. We look at their criminal background, their civic background, because we want to make sure that they’re quality advisors and they’re good eggs, and we’re not putting consumers into situations that we wouldn’t be comfortable ourselves.
Elle: Finally, if you’re not happy with your financial advisor, and talking things out hasn’t helped, then it’s time to consider finding a new one. You and your financial advisor should be partners on the same page and able to communicate openly and freely if you’re going to reach your goals.
Elle: Thanks again to Raghav for being a part of the show. If you’re looking for a financial advisor, please check out GuideVine.
Join us in next episode, when Roger Whitney will be covering how couples can start the conversation about retirement and recognizing one another’s money style. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the podcast, so you’ll get that episode and all others as soon as they’re released. It’s free and easy. We’re on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher. You can also leave a review of the show on any of those sites. I’d love to hear what you think. The feed is also available on couplemoneypodcast.com, so you can grab it on whatever service you prefer.
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