We continue our conversation with multi-award-winning Chicago Tribune personal finance columnist Gail MarksJarvis, author of "Saving for Retirement (without living like a pauper or winning the lottery)," just out in an updated and revised edition.
Gail MarksJarvis, named “Best Financial Columnist" by Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, takes an accessible “everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-but-were-afraid-to-ask” approach to personal finance. Kiplinger named “Saving for Retirement” one of the five “Great Money Books for Young Investors.” But while she designed her book to be a hands-on guide for neophytes to the investment process and saving for retirement, she acknowledges the pivotal role a competent and trustworthy financial advisor can play in helping individuals achieve their financial goals.
Finding that competent and trustworthy financial advisor who puts their client’s best interests first can be an intimidating process, she writes in her book. People “have gone to a financial advisor in the first place because they feel insecure about their knowledge and, consequently, don’t want to ask what they fear might be ‘dumb’ questions.”
But not asking can cost you, MarksJarvis cautions. The book’s concluding chapter, “Do You Need a Financial Advisor” outlines the process for securing the services of a financial advisor that is a good fit for you.
When is the right time to get a financial advisor? Generally, MarksJarvis told Millionaire Corner, “When you are young and the only saving and investing for the future you’re doing is through a 401(k) or IRA, you don’t need to go to a financial advisor. I recommend people (at this age) to learn the basics so they can do it themselves.”
Still, many 20-somethings may feel personal finance is too complicated (“which I don’t believe it is,” MarksJarvis emphasized), and they will feel paralyzed and do nothing. “They should find some kind of advisor,” MarksJarvis said.
According to ongoing wealth level studies conducted by Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner, Affluent investors choose a financial advisor primarily based upon recommendations by friends and family. This is a good start, MarksJarvis writes, but one should not stop there. She recommends consideration be paid to certification (a certified financial planner is best), performing background checks (www.brokercheck.finra.org), and determining in interviews if a prospective financial advisor has experience focusing on people with a financial situation similar to yours.
She also cautions to be on guard for conflicts of interest. “If you are not (comparatively) bringing much money to invest, an advisor could try to put them into some kind of investment with huge fees and commissions because they have to make some money on it,” he said.
A separate Millionaire Corner survey found that the key benefits of working with a financial advisor are confidence and peace of mind. For younger investors, MarksJarvis recommends, a practical approach might be consulting with a CFP once a year. This should give, she writes, “the confidence to go another year, simply feeding new money, paycheck after paycheck, into your 401(K), IRA, or other accounts.”
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.