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What to know about financial advisors

Updated time: 05 Jul, 2022, 14:27 (UTC+08:00)

Having a financial goal in order can bring huge confidence and security. Self-managing your own money is not something impossible, however it may take time and a lot of research to keep everything on the right track. If you do not specialize in finance matters, hiring a financial advisor can help you a lot in making reasonable decisions for your property management.

Know more about Financial Advisors

Know more about Financial Advisors

What can financial advisors help you with?

In general, a financial advisor helps you with all aspects of achieving your financial goals, such as giving you advice on what you should do with your money, assisting with your investments and other courses of action related to your financial health.

For example, if you wish to retire in 20 years or set an ambition to have one million dollars in 2 years, you may want the assistance of a competent expert with proper licenses. With whom, together, you will discuss a variety of subjects, including the investment portfolio that works best for you, the types of insurance you should buy (such as long-term care, term life, disability, etc…), or aspects of estate investment or tax planning,...

Particular range of services that a professional financial advisor offers can be:

  • Investment Advice: Your financial counselor will investigate various investment possibilities and ensure that your investment portfolio remains within your risk tolerance.
  • Debt management: By working and discussing with clients, these advisors will help to resolve the outstanding debts such as credit card debt, school loans, vehicle loans, or mortgages,... with proper repayment plan.
  • Budgeting help: Assessing where your money goes once it leaves your paycheck. Advisors can assist you in crafting budgets to achieve your financial objectives.
  • Insurance coverage: Depending on your financial condition, financial advisors may analyze your current policies to find any gaps in coverage or propose additional types of policies, such as disability insurance or long-term care coverage.
  • Tax planning: Tax planning includes devising strategies to reduce the amount of taxes you may owe, such as making big charitable contributions or taking advantage of tax losses. However, not all financial planners are tax professionals, so tax planning is not the same as tax preparation. To submit your taxes, you still need a CPA or tax software.
  • Retirement planning: Assisting you in accumulating cash for the long-term objective of retirement. Then, if you've retired or are about to retire, they may assist you in keeping your money safe.
  • Estate planning: Assisting you transfer your legacy to the next generation, whether it's family, friends, or charity causes.
  • College planning: Helping you create a strategy to save funds for your loved ones' higher education.

Your financial advisor can also be your finance strategy teacher. Part of the advisor's job is to explain what's required in achieving your long-term plan. You can learn some financial subjects during the educational process. Budgeting and saving are two subjects that may need to be discussed early in the relationship between you and your financial consultant. As your expertise grows, the advisor will help you grasp complicated investment portfolios, insurance, and tax issues.

How to find a financial advisor?

To earn the best return interest, you need to find prominent partners who have enough knowledge and prestige to build the best investment analysis and portfolio management for you. With a variety of professionals currently on the market, here are some tips on how to find a financial advisor that best fits your needs.

Finding proper financial advisors

Finding proper financial advisors

1. Know about type of financial advisors you been working with:

Brokers and investment advisors are the two types of legally defined financial professions.

Brokers are often registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and regulated by the Financial Sector Regulatory Authority. They were once considered salespeople by the law, and were only required to offer assets that were suited for you, even if better possibilities were available. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued new guidelines that require these experts to operate in your best interest while dealing with your money. However they are insufficient and do not go far enough to remove potential conflicts of interest, such as receiving payment for promoting certain items.

Whereas financial advisors can also register under the role of investment advisor. Under this role, these experts must behave as fiduciaries under SEC guidelines, which means they must prioritize your interests over their own and avoid conflicts of interest as much as possible.

Distinguishing the two above types may get a little tricky because no one actually gets these terms printed on their business card.

Also, there are other ways to define more specific types which you can directly raise questions for your service provider to get detailed insight about, particularly:

  • Fee-Only Financial Advisors: Earn money from the fees you pay for their services. These costs might be calculated as a percentage of the assets you manage, an hourly rate, or a fixed rate. These experts have decided to work on a fee-only basis in order to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. Because their income comes from customers, it's in their best interest for them to make sure you get the greatest financial investment analysis and portfolio management.
  • Financial Advisors Who Earn Commissions: Sales commissions are their main source of income and sometimes they may represent themselves as "free" financial advisors who do not charge you a price for their services. Others may impose small fees and imply that third-party commissions account for just a portion of their revenue. Financial advisors who are compensated by third-party sales commissions make some or all of their money from the financial products that they sell to you. If you choose to deal with a financial advisor that is compensated by sales commissions, you must take extra caution.
  • Registered Investment Advisors: Companies that provide fiduciary financial advice are known as Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs). Investment Advisor Representatives (IARs), who are obligated to act in the best interests of their clients, work for RIAs.One or hundreds of IARs may be employed by an RIA. IARs might refer to themselves as financial advisers and work on a fee-only or fee-based basis.Some may have additional certifications, such as the CFP designation (certified financial planner).
  • Robo-Advisors: Provide low-cost, computerized investing advice. Most focus on helping consumers invest for mid- and long-term goals, such as retirement, using pre-built diversified exchange traded fund (ETFs) portfolios.

In general, knowing what type of advisor and how your advisor gets paid is key to understand how to find a financial advisor. In reality, there is no right or wrong for an advisor to receive commission for their work. Your financial needs will determine what works best for you. Paying a commission, for example, may be the most cost-effective alternative if you are purchasing an investment that you intend to retain for a long time and for which you will not want regular guidance. A commission-based price structure, on the other hand, is not the best option if you want someone to update your financial plan and answer your queries on a regular basis.

2. Make sure your financial advisor has a reputable credentials

Not all credentials are at the same level. For higher and easier income, several companies provide easy-to-obtain credentials which salesmen can get easily to be called as experts.

To make sure whether advisors or financial planners you are working with are valued partners, you can ask for their CFP (Certified Financial Planner) or PFS (Personal Financial Specialist) qualification, or if they are investment advisor, take a look at their CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) degree. These reputable credentials may be a big consideration to successfully locate credible advisors or financial planners. Importantly, CFP practitioners must adhere to the fiduciary standard of care, which means they must always prioritize their customers' needs before their own.

3. Do a background and complaints check

The most significant documents to go into when checking the background of your financial advisor is form ADV and form CRS.

Moreover, before you have someone manage your money like building your investment analysis and portfolio management, make sure they are legitimate and have a good track record by checking their credentials and complaint history with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the CFP Board, or other membership organizations with which the advisor is affiliated.

However, you shouldn't instantly rule out an advisor just because they have a complaint. The longer financial advisors have been in operation, the more chances they receive complaints. The option to find another advisor is only considered in case someone has a lot of bad reviews.

4. Prepare a questionnaire that need to be clarified in an introductory call or meeting:

When you're looking for a financial advisor, you might want to know exactly what they can bring to you. For example, if you want to find someone who has enough ability to build your successful investment analysis and portfolio management, you can refer to these following questionnaire to craft your own standard questions to test their work procedures, levels and experience:

  • How are your advisors compensated?
  • Are they a fiduciary?
  • Do they already have credentials?
  • What kind of clients have they been working with?
  • How do they approach financial planning strategy?
  • What financial planning services do this advisor offer?
  • How do they work with their current company, what happens if they change firms?

The Bottom Line:

You don't need a lot of money, all you need is a good financial advisor who understands your circumstances. The choice to seek expert financial advice is a personal one, but every time you're feeling overwhelmed, confused, worried out, or afraid about your financial status, it's a good idea to get help. Having said that, having your own proper financial expert’s advice can help you a lot in achieving your financial objectives and protecting yourself and your loved ones as well as their financial futures.


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