Some investors want professional advice but are afraid of high fees and losing control of their investments. Find out how to manage a financial advisor.
Many investors fly solo, managing their finances without the help of a professional advisor, but not everyone has the time, inclination or know-how for money matters.
Sharing the burden of financial management appeals to some investors, but they often hesitate to seek professional advice. One obstacle can be fees, which are widely perceived as being too high. A fear of losing control of savings and investments also deters many investors from engaging a professional to help with money matters.
A better understanding of the range of services and variety of fee structures can help investors establish a good working relationship with an advisor - a relationship that meets investors’ need for control and comfort with fees. Novice investors tend to lump advisors into one group, not realizing that there are significant differences between types of advisors and how they are compensated.
Some advisors sell a specific product, such as an annuity, and provide advice only on that product. Others will look at every aspect of a client’s finances and devise a plan to help their clients achieve life goals. Compensation for advisors also varies according to the service they provide. Some receive a commission on sales, and others receive a brokerage commission on trades. Some advisors charge an hourly fee and others charge a flat percentage of the assets under management.
Investors empowered with knowledge can more successfully manage their relationships with their financial advisors. First, investors are advised to evaluate their needs, then carefully screen potential advisors to be sure they are qualified to provide the desired services. Investors are urged to scrutinize the way an advisor calculates fees. Knowledge of fee structures enables an investor to not only determine the cost of a service, but also discover the financial incentives for the advisor. For examples, advisors who receive a sales commission have different financial incentives than advisors who are paid an hourly fee for their advice.
Once investors establish an advisor relationship they must actively manage and monitor the relationship. It’s important to keep in mind that no one, not even your advisor, cares about your own money as much as you do.
Clear and open communication is the cornerstone of a good advisor-client relationship, according to Millionaire Corner research. Investors above all value an advisor who they perceive as honest and trustworthy, and who is proactive in communicating with them. The primary reason investors give for leaving their financial advisor is the advisor’s failure to promptly return phone calls.
Clients can help create the groundwork for healthy, two-way communication by clarifying expectations for contact. They can ask how often they will review their portfolio with their advisor, and how the review will be conducted. They can let their advisor know the best way to be contacted and make sure the advisor has the preferred phone number or email address. Investors are also advised to take the initiative if communication breaks down, by initiating contact with their advisor.
The majority of investors consult an advisor for at least some of their investment decisions, according to Millionaire Corner research. Some investors consult an advisor for investment advice, but manage their own transactions. “Event-driven” investors seek out an advisor for help with money matters surrounding a life event, such as financing a college education.