No matter your current situation, it’s never too early to get assistance with planning for life’s expected and unexpected twists and turns. Working with a Financial Professional to guide you through the confusing maze of financial products, strategies, and regulations is one of the best decisions you can make. That means your selection is one of the most important choices you will make. Like any major life decision, a methodical decision-making process is critical. Start with a list of possible Financial Professionals and steadily narrow your list until you arrive at your selection.
Where to start?
One of the best places to start your search is your social network. Ask your friends who they work with, and what they like about their Financial Professional. A friend’s referral is a great first step, but you should still do your own research before you hire a Financial Professional or firm. If you want additional options, consider expanding your sources. If you belong to a faith community, social organization, or team, see if any local Financial Professionals are also members or supporters. It doesn’t guarantee a good fit, but at least you know they are involved in the things you find important. If your social and community network doesn’t get you what you’re looking for, a quick internet search will yield plenty of options for you to pursue.
Narrow the list
Now that you have a list of prospects, it’s time to start narrowing your options. Visit their websites. Are you able to learn a little more about their philosophy and their personality? Do they offer information about what to expect on your first appointment? Another consideration is whether the Financial Professional works independently or if she or he is part of a team who can step in to help you with urgent matters. Team environments can also foster fresh ideas or strategies, which could be an advantage for you.
Do your diligence
Once you are down to your final short list, do your diligence. BrokerCheck.com and Adviserinfo.sec.gov are free resources that will provide information regarding an individual and/or firm’s applicable licensing, state registrations, as well as any regulatory actions, arbitrations, or complaints on record (disclosures).
The final step
The last step in making your decision is to sit down with your finalists to do an initial meeting and interview, either in person, on the phone, or by video connection. Remember, you are hiring a Financial Professional to guide you through the many options and ideas in the financial world. You need to feel completely comfortable telling him or her all of your personal financial information—good or not-so-good. When you make your initial appointment, consider whether they have information prepared to help you plan ahead. Do they have a checklist or other on-boarding material available to guide you through gathering all of your financial information?
When you have your first meeting, a Financial Professional should ask you a lot of questions, and answer all of yours. Take some time beforehand to think about what is genuinely important to you and your family. We all have different goals and visions of what financial security means, and it evolves as we grow older. Building a relationship with your Financial Professional that is built on open communication will assist him or her in helping you meet your goals.
Ask about fees
Financial Professionals have chosen this as a career and it is how they earn their living. You should expect to pay them for their time and expertise. While you may feel a bit uncomfortable asking about any fees they will charge, it is completely acceptable, and the individual should be willing to explain them to you. There are multiple ways in which Financial Professionals are compensated and it is important that you have a clear understanding how the different compensation structures work and the services you will be provided for each.
Time to sign on
After your sit-downs with your finalists, it’s time to reflect on your experiences and make the decision. Which meeting was the most inspiring? Who made you feel like achieving your goals is within your reach? Did you feel like you made a good connection with one individual over another? Who felt like a true partner in your decision-making team? The answer to those questions should be your new Financial Professional!
Check in regularly
Your Financial Professional should ask to set up regular check-ins to review your portfolio and make adjustments based on your situation or interests. You should also keep him or her informed when a significant event happens, like a new job, retirement, change in marital status, or having a child. All of those will likely have some impact your objectives and strategies.
You can always change
You should remember that YOU are ultimately in the driver’s seat of who you choose to work with. You can make a change to a different individual within a firm or move your account to another firm if you decide that it is no longer a good fit.
Securities and investment advice offered by qualified individuals through Coordinated Capital Securities, Inc. (CCS) Member FINRA/SIPC. The Schaeffer Financial Group, LLC and CCS are not affiliated.