Finding a financial advisor is daunting because you know it’s important and yet it’s so hard to figure out.
Bottom line up front: Start with finding Certified Financial Planners (CFP®) that understand your situation; do a little online research and then interview a couple.
Tune into this week’s podcast to learn more about:
- Hiring a CFP®. This should be a minimum bar. There are plenty of planners out there and it shows a commitment to doing your best job for clients.
- Who calls themselves advisors? It could be a broker, someone working at a local bank, a wealth manager or an insurance provider. Unfortunately hanging out a shingle of “financial advisor” is not distinguishing enough.
- Look for domain knowledge. Not only knowledge of financial planning, but also your specific situation. Are you close to retirement? Are you starting a family? Have you just taken your first job?
- Understand compensation: make sure that you know how the advisor is paid. Is she paid by how much money she manages? Or paid a commission if you invest in a certain mutual fund or buy life insurance? Make sure you know how your incentives are aligned
- Find a CFP®: Lets Make a Plan
- Find a Fee-Only Fiduciary Planner: NAPFA.org
- Ten Questions to ask a Financial Advisor [Marotta on Money]
- Another: Ten Questions to ask a Financial Advisor [NerdWallet]
I get to relive it by my kids, waving goodbye to them as they actually leave the house.[:[:
Today I wanted to talk about why you should hire a certified financial planner, a CFP, or more generally, how to look for a financial advisor. I'm in the industry. And one of the reasons I jumped in is because I felt like there's a lot of misinformation.
There's a lot of different ways of going about it. It's not a very professionalized industry in terms of nothing's done quite the same way, person to person, firm to firm. So it's very confusing, especially for consumers had some advice. Where do you even go to where do you turn? How does that work?
So I wanted to highlight some of the things to look for when you're looking for an advisor and just try to help people out. If that's a route they want to take, or just to know a little bit more about what.[:
It's just give us your money and we'll try and make you as much as we can. And. Mainly because then we make money. And it's similar to, and I'm not bashing the real estate market, but realtors, there's a misalignment of values or not values, but realtors supposed to be working for you, but yet they make more money.
The more money you pay for a house. So I think a lot of people get turned off. Thinking about hiring a financial planner because they think all you're going to do is take some portion of my money and . You're not absorbing the risk that I am. So anyway, great topic. I'm excited to chat about this with you.[:
And so we understand that. And so even just knowing that you entered a relationship and they're great, Realtors are great people and they're doing the best for you. But just even knowing, how they're driven with their incentives just helps you frame the conversation.
So that's where we want to get to today is having a good understanding of where people might be coming from. So that at least you understand how to enter those conversations.[:
And like you said, knowing what to look for, because again, a lot of these people are very passionate about their work and you need their help and you're not expecting them to do it for free. They have expertise that you don't. And so also recognizing that you have to value, it's not a non-profit industry.
And so understanding that going into it as well.[:
It takes a few years of time, lots of study and effort. But it's not unattainable and there are thousands of them out there. You do a search in your area. You will find a local one. You can find one online as we're doing things virtually. There's , tens of thousands, . Of these CFP certified financial planners.
And the reason I like is not only because of the learning course, they're going to have education and some expertise in a variety of topics. Cause that's the education part. But it's really the commitment to better yourself and get that. I It takes a few years of effort. And so you put in that time, it shows a commitment towards what you want to be doing and how you want to help people.
And so I just think that should be a minimum standard because you can find them. It's not like they're not out there. And so I would always start with that and you can still find 2, 3, 4 different advisors to interview to get to know, to see who's going to work best with you. So I always recommend.
Using that as a minimum starting.[:[:
The CFP is just the most well-known. And so I say, look, just find some. That has that they have to be a fiduciary. If you are a CFP and you have to be a fiduciary, we can talk about what that means, but that's great. You have, there's a code of ethics that you have to abide by now. Unfortunately, the CFP board doesn't always enforce as much as we'd like.
There was a wall street journal article a few months ago that there were lots of CFPs that have marks against them, complaints against them that should have kicked them. Of being a CFP and yet, the wall street journal did some digging and found that they're still in there. So the enforcement is not as great as we would like, but at least it's a minimum starting point for finding a couple of advisors that might work for you.[:[:
So you look up every financial advisor needs to have disclosures. Okay. For themselves, for the firm they work for, you can click on those typically they're long documents. Okay. That you would not usually read. Okay. I recommend you don't have to read the whole thing. But what I do recommend is that at least you go to the FINRA or the broker check and it'll show you how long they've been working, what firm they've been working for.
And if there are any complaints against them. So at least you can find that out. Pretty good.[:[:
This is a relationship, hopefully you get into for a long period, even if you're just checking in. A lot of clients might just check in and say, oh, I just want to questions about my 401k or whatever, but hopefully you find someone good that you're going to be checking in with, every couple of years at a minimum.
So you want to have a good working relationship.[:[:
So you have a hundred thousand dollars in savings there and the bank would say, Hey, do you want to come in for a free consultation with a financial advisor? Oh, that sounds good. So it could be somebody, there could be wealth managers. You mentioned that earlier people knocking on doors, rattling the trees, you know, seeing who has money to invest.
So they could be having more of that management bent to them. It could be people in the insurance industry, life insurance agents could help you with some financial advising, some financial planning. Understanding that they're in the insurance business. So they come in all different forms and you really want to understand who's sitting across from you and who they're working for and why they're working and the incentives and other things.
So let's talk about incentives. How did, how do financial advisors typically get paid?
So it's super important to understand. we talked about this earlier, how your advisor's being compensated. Why is that important? Just so that, you know how they're getting paid because we're all here. We all at the end of the day, when you're, when your head's hitting that pillow, you're thinking about the next day or the next week or year and your vacations and your time you want to take off or whatever you want to be doing.
A lot of times it comes down to money. Hey, how's my life situation. How's my family. How could I make more money? Or how could I do a better job or have more time? So as humans, we're always aligned with our incentives and financial advisors are. A lot of different ways. So it's really important when you're sitting across the table from one understanding, Hey, how's this guy making money.
So let's talk about the different ways that financial advisors could be getting paid. One. You mentioned Julie is the wealth management, the assets under management, where AUM, we call it and you're getting paid by how much you're managing.[:[:
The commission in another context. Okay of how you get paid. So this would be your assets under management AUM, we call it. And it's the typical 1% you might've read that. And there, and it's all over the place a little bit higher than that. A little bit lower than that, but generally speaking, that's been the industry standard that if I'm managing $1 million for you, Julie, you pay me 1% of that.
You pay me $10,000 a year to do that work for. Okay. Now I might do other things for you. I might do financial planning. I might help you with insurances. I might help you with estate planning. I might look at retirement planning, you know, all kinds of different aspects, but the way I'm getting paid is however much money you give me to manage.
I will charge you 1% of that. Now this has been historically the way it's worked and it's pretty nice. It works well. But recognize that. , the reason it works well for the industry is 1% sounds very small. And so that's why we use 1%. And we don't say, Julie, I'm going to charge you $10,000 a year.
That sounds way bigger. Okay. And it comes out of your portfolio. So you actually never send me a dollar. You never swipe a credit card or send me a check. I just handle all that. Now, these guys do great service. All right. I always like to couch it in dollar terms so that you're aware, $10,000 for that.
All right. So that's one way that they're paid. So recognize that now there's pros and cons for any of these. All right. So I'm not here to debate, good or bad, but just recognize one instance of this is Julie. If you said, Hey, I'm thinking about spending some of that money for a nice vacation home.
And that's really the way I want to live. So I would like to take out 500,000, to do that rather than get a mortgage. I might have an incentive to say, you know what? The mortgage might be better for you because if you take 500,000 I'm suddenly my pay is cut in half.
So just again, if you understand the framework, no problem. Okay. They'll probably get great people giving you great advice, but just understand where incentives come from. Alright. That's one way really quickly. I spent a little more time on that. Cause it's typical way others commission, you mentioned the word commission.
All right. And this would be more for selling products. So again, I'm a life insurance person. Hey, I can help you with some financial planning. We can do that. And maybe you need some life insurance as part of your planning. So I sell you a life insurance product. I might make a couple thousand dollars, so I'm gonna make money based on life insurance.
Obviously , you're going to recognize right away. I'm probably going to recommend life insurance. If I quickly review your situation, you don't need insurance. I'm probably knocking on the next. So those would be the agents life insurance. The other thing is like the local bank the free financial advising at the local bank you have some money stored there.
They say, Hey, maybe you should invest some of this money. Let's take a look, should we invest this for the future? They're probably going to be paid to sales commission based on what they invest in. So they recommend some products some mutual funds say, Hey, this is a good mutual fund. I think this would be good.
That free meeting someone's getting paid. Like you said, it's not a nonprofit industry someone's getting paid. And so that free meeting is probably being paid by a commission based on what they recommend the products. So this leads me to another distinction or I should pause there, Julie, any questions on the AUM or the commissions?[:[:
Oh, we're going to do X, Y, or Z. Here's the service. And you can decide if that's worth the value, for pain for those. So those would be like, hourly. Or flat fee. You'll see that. Now the other thing that you will see when you go look for financial advisors is fee only. . So if you see the words fee only what that means is that there is no sales related commissions.
Now that you could be the AUM that we talked about. It could be a subscription flat fee per month. It could be anything around those, but you're not getting set. You're not getting commissions from products. And I think that's it. Because for me, I think that if you were looking for total financial planning .
And financial advice that you would be the one compensating that individual, rather than that individual getting compensated in other ways that are a little bit unknown to you. So I like it. Financial advisors that a hundred percent of their income is coming from there. it's AUM or subscription or whatever it is, but they're not getting commissions from insurance products or mutual fund products, because then they have incentive to drive you towards those products, which may or may not be an absolute best fit for your situation.[:
And, When we talked about incentives, you want to make sure you're aligned.[:
I don't actually pay for my realtor. That's great. So just, understanding that if that's your situation, you need some life insurance go work with a life insurance agent. Cause you don't have to pay out of pocket for those guys and they're going
It's perfect. They're going to give you, maybe X, Y, or Z , a couple of different solutions and you can review those decide what's best for you. It's going to be perfect. And I work with insurance. As a financial advisor for my clients, I don't do the insurance. I don't get paid for that, but I recommend certain ones say Hey, these guys are great.
They do a good job and you can.[:[:
That's great. Or it could be a smaller financial advisor that, outsources stuff, either way just, you want those domain experts in area.[:[:
The other thing I would look for is domain expertise for your situation. So if you're about to retire, you want somebody that knows a lot about that. If you are at the other end of the spectrum, if you're just starting off in your twenties with your career. And just need some help picking 401k funds, or you want to just make sure that you're set up for success over the next couple of decades.
Find somebody that works with young people.[:[:
But you should get cost efficiencies as well, right? If someone's focused on a certain area, they're really good at it, so they can do it quickly and efficiently. And they have systems for that. Oh, if you're young, like stick a person in their twenties, It doesn't have to be super complicated.
So you could probably find somebody where you're not paying a lot out of pocket. You don't have a lot, but you're just getting the great nuggets. Hey, you do this for five years and you'll be great. And we'll see in five years, for instance, versus if you're about to retire that's a really big decision.
Do I have enough to live, the next 20, 30, 40 years, what's it gonna look like? You want to make sure you hire somebody that really knows all the ins and outs of that and can guide you through that process.
Any other questions on that now seems to make sense.[:[:
Anything else, Julie, that we haven't covered finding a financial advisor.[:
And a couple of mishaps in, I realized that she doesn't have children. And not that you can't be a good pediatrician, not having children, but. new pediatrician we have has kids around the same age as mine. And therefore she says, here's what the textbook would tell you to do, because this is the exact right.
However, in practice, that's not going to work. So here are some other things to try to help you through this, whatever it is.
So top five questions.[:
We often look for someone sitting across from us that looks like. That physically looks like us, that makes us comfortable. And that also isn't the same place as us. Oh, you have kids too. Suddenly we have a connection. Oh, you understand my situation. Okay. That's I was talking about a little bit with the domain expertise, but I think you highlight it even better that interviewing a couple advisors, finding someone there.
You have that connection too, that not only has the textbook, but also is living the situation just makes a lot of sense, both for the advice that you will be given, but also the comfort level that, oh yeah, this person knows me. I'm trusting their advice that we're going to be implementing with my kids in the pediatrician or financially with moving money around and how that's going.
I'll definitely put some questions in the show notes. I would also just recommend Googling that because there's so many forms out there already like top 10 questions, top five questions, and then pick the ones that make sense for you. So I would, in that instance, I would go out and just go to a couple of different websites and then have my little note.
And say, oh yeah, this is, these are the ones that I want to. Oh, that's a good one. I didn't think about that. Write down the ones that would make sense and in your situation, but we'll definitely link to a couple of, yeah.[:
Great. If it's. They enjoy some of the same activities that you do. They also have kids they're living like you said, the sameness factor that, okay. I think this person would be better suited to help me given that their lifestyle is similar to mine. So a quick bio check, I think would, might even be better than a top five questions to ask.[:[:[:
And thanks again for being on the show.[:[:
Thanks for joining us on financial planning for entrepreneurs. If you like, what you heard, please subscribe to and rate the podcast on Apple iTunes, Google play Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can connect with me on linkedin or mortonfinancialadvice.com. I'd love to get your feedback. If you have a comment or question, please email me at . Until next time thanks for tuning in.