4 Questions You Should Consider When Choosing a Financial Advisor

April 19, 2021

By Bridgelight Financial Advisors

Choosing a financial advisor is not an easy task. It’s an extremely personal decision that comes with a number of questions and concerns in order to ensure that your money is being cared for in the right hands. While on your search for the right fit, here are some of the most important questions to ask your possible future advisor (and yourself) in order to ultimately come to the best decision for you and your family.

Are They a Fiduciary?

This is hands down THE most important question to ask when shopping around the financial advisor market. When it comes to financial advisors, it’s crucial to understand that these advisors have two different standards of care they must legally uphold to when caring for their clients: a suitability standard of care and a fiduciary standard of care. Let’s break these down, shall we?

  • Suitability Standard – An advisor held to this specific standard of care is only permitted to sell their clients products that are suitable for their clients’ needs. They do not necessarily have to act in their clients’ best interests (1).
  • Fiduciary Standard – This standard of care means that an advisor is required to act on their clients’ best interests – even if that means putting their clients’ needs in front of their own (1).

It’s a no-brainer! Fiduciaries legally must act with skill, diligence, and good judgement of a professional in order to lead you on the right path in your (and only your) best interest. For lack of better words, they truly care about their clients and want to see them succeed. The suitability standard of care includes none of these requirements.

Are They Considered a Specialist?

If your main goal in looking for a financial planner revolves around ensuring that your retirement is secure, wouldn’t you want to work with someone that specializes in retirement? Sure, many financial planners pride themselves in being extremely proficient in managing investments but they tend to fall short in critical areas of retirement planning. Make sure you’re working with the best of the best! Whether you’re about to retire, in the process of retiring, or have already retired, it’s important to find someone who specializes in this field.

What Does Their Fee Structure Look Like?

Believe it or not, most people that work with financial planners don’t truly know how much they’re paying in fees. In some firms, payment is not something that is disclosed with their clients. Once these clients sign up, they’re bombarded with disclosing fees, hidden fees, commission on products, and so on and so forth. On the other hand, fee-based firms must disclose what fees they require from you when it comes to managing your money. In this case, there’s no surprises. Make sure you have an open conversation with your possible future advisor on this topic so you’re aware of what’s coming.

Would You Enjoy Working With Them?

It’s simple. People like to work with people they like. It’s extremely important to find the right fit when to comes to working with someone as long term as a financial advisor. It’s just as important to get along with the person handling your money as it is trusting them to do so. Your financial advisor should meet all of your needs while also having a personality you enjoy – it goes a long way! Trust your gut. If you experience a “family-like feel” while also feeling confident in an advisor’s ability to handle your money, you may have just found your match. 

If you relate to this article and are in need of a financial advisor, our team at Bridgelight Financial Advisors would love to help you experience confidence in every aspect of your financial plan. Call (203) 795-7080, email Advice@BridgelightAdvisors.com, or schedule an appointment online to meet and get started.

About Bill

Bill Leavitt is the president of Bridgelight Financial Advisors, an independent, privately owned fiduciary financial advisory and financial planning firm. He specializes in working with pre-retirees, retirees, professionals, and women investors, helping them navigate a complicated and ever-changing investment landscape. With over 25 years of experience, Bill serves his clients using his own unique financial planning model, The Wealth Focus™ Process, where he helps clients develop their customized long-term wealth strategy in four comprehensive steps. A Connecticut native, Bill resides in southern Connecticut with his wife Laura and their three daughters. To learn more about Bill, connect with him on LinkedIn.

(1) https://www.investopedia.com/articles/professionaleducation/11/suitability-fiduciary-standards.asp

(2) https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/060515/top-3-financial-advisor-credentials.asp

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