This is the second part of a six part series to help simplify your search for a financial advisor.  Our first article discussed When Do You Need a Financial Advisor?

There are several different factors to consider when you’re looking for a financial advisor. To focus your search, start by defining your needs and what matters the most to you.

What do you need help with?

Are you looking for an expert whose main job it is to manage your investments (an “investment manager”)? Or are you looking for a comprehensive (or “holistic”) financial advisor who can walk you through the ins and outs of every aspect of your financial life? This includes not only investments but also insurance, taxes, estate planning and more. Or are you looking for someone who can create a formal, structured plan and “to-do” list to help you reach your short and long-term financial goals?

This type of professional is typically called a “financial planner.” Once the plan is set, then you are in charge of implementing it and managing your investments. Also, some financial advisors are generalists, while others have specialties, like helping clients with retirement income or working with entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Some even have expertise working with clients in very specific careers, like doctors or professional athletes. So, ask yourself: What specific services are you looking for from a financial advisor? Just planning? Budgeting? Estate planning? Going over insurance policies? Investing? And do you need a generalist or someone more focused?

Are you open to working with a financial advisor who isn’t local?

These days, technology makes it easier than ever to do business with anyone, whether they live down the block or across the country. Opening your search to advisors outside your own area can give you a lot more options, but it may also mean sacrificing a face-to-face relationship. So would it bother you if you only ever saw your advisor through a screen? Even if you work with an advisor remotely, you can still be strategic about location. Many advisors like to meet in person once a year. If you live in an out-of-the-way area, you might search for someone who works with other clients near you, lives in a city you travel to for business, or who lives near family that you visit.

How much contact do you want to have with your advisor?

Some financial advisors call you all the time and are available to chat whenever you want. Others are more hands-off, focusing on an annual portfolio review and not much else. Are you satisfied delegating your finances to someone else and checking in only occasionally, or would you rather work with someone who will be in frequent touch?

How involved do you want to be with your investments?

There are two basic models for the advisor-client relationship. In one, the advisor makes sure to involve you in most investing decisions. In the other model, the advisor independently handles buying and selling decisions without necessarily consulting you.

Clients who prefer the latter model either don’t have the time to think about their investments, are too emotional about the stock market, or have jobs where they have to be “hands off” from investment decisions.So, ask yourself: What’s your investment style? Would you rather set up an investment strategy and let it do its thing without your needing to check in frequently, or would you rather take a more active hand in your own investing?

How do you pay for all this advice from an advisor.  Don’t worry, we’ll break that down for you next time we discuss: What Types of Financial Advisor Fees Should I Be Aware of?


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From time to time, the team at GuideVine highlights certain topical videos and content from expert financial advisors. We find these helpful and hope you will to for your managing personal finances. To learn more, you can view and find potential advisors through our advisor matching service and listings, ask one-on-one personal finance questions to these experts, and view “How to” videos on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJopbGDSgc1szGZaoUPqTrA).