Money Talks: 4 Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor

4 questions to ask a financial advisor

Let’s face it, too many women weren’t raised with the skills we need to effectively manage our money and grow wealth, and that includes hiring a financial advisor.

Before you make the leap of trusting a professional with your hard-earned money, treat it like an investment and do your homework: Shop around, get referrals and – most importantly – ask questions!

Here are four to ask any financial advisor before you work with them:

Are you a fiduciary?

A fiduciary is an independent, financial advisor who works in YOUR best interest. You’d think we would be legally required to put you first, but sadly, we are not. More than 90 percent of today’s financial professionals would have to change their business model or leave the industry entirely. Most sell commission products and have quarterly sales goals to meet. They really have no incentive to service or communicate with you until they can up-sell you again. Keep in mind that bigger firms are all about making profits for their shareholders….not YOU! For more info on the role of a fiduciary advisor, give this a read: https://www.cnbc.com/amp/2018/08/27/understanding-how-fiduciary-advisors-work.html.

How do you get paid?

You want to work with an advisor who has full transparency and charges either a flat fee or percentage of assets under management. Fiduciary financial advisors are aligned on the same side of table as you.

If you don’t see a line item on your quarterly statement or if you don’t physically write out a check to your financial advisor, then he/she is probably charging you a commission, and those fees can be upwards of 5.75 to 10 percent!  That can really impact what you keep in your pocket. 

What are the total fees I pay to work with you?

A lot of investors don’t realize that there can be a ton of hidden fees that will also eat away at your performance. Be sure you understand the internal product fees, trading fees, account fees, and taxes you are being charged, in addition to how the advisor gets paid. Total it up for the year, and if it’s more than 1.50 percent, then run! 

What services do you offer?

Many advisors see themselves as portfolio managers, stock brokers, or wealth managers. They were trained to watch the markets all day, then try to make sense out of all the noise so they can generate the opportunity to sell you more products. However, a holistic financial planner should take stock of your entire financial picture, advise you on how to prepare for life’s curve balls and expected special events, and provide solutions (NOT PRODUCTS) on how to accomplish your personal goals. 

As an independent financial planner, I work with successful people who do not have the time or desire to manage their own wealth. Whether a business owner, corporate executive or busy professional, my mission is to simplify your life, save you time, and streamline the process in order to help you achieve your goals.

This fall, I’m offering Achieving Financial Independence Bootcamp: Life throws you curve balls!  Are you prepared?, a two-day financial program designed to empower people to take control of most aspects of managing their money. Participants can take one or both days of classes.

  • 9:30 a.m.- 4 p.m, Saturday, October 13
  • 9:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturday, November 3

For more information, visit my website at www.melconsultingco.com.

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Melanie Husk is the Founder and President of MEL Consulting CO. She has worked for some of the best firms on Wall Street, including Legg Mason, Goldman Sachs, and Raymond James. During much of her career, she partnered with financial advisors to interpret the markets by providing research and insight. Additionally, she educated them on investment solutions and portfolio construction. Her strong knowledge of traditional and alternative asset classes allowed her to build risk-managed, globally diversified strategies to address specific needs, such as replacing an income stream or providing for downside protection.