Dirty Secrets of the Financial Advice Business – Part 3
Do you have a financial advisor you trust? One who offers independent and unbiased advice? One who acts in your best interests at all times?
I hope you can answer, “yes” to all these questions.
But, are affirmatives to these important questions enough?
It is also important to think about how your advisor works with you. Ask yourself this question: Is your advisor a “back office advisor?”
A back office advisor is one who meets with you and may ask a lot of questions. The questions may be really good, and they may make you feel that your advisor really understands you. Once the “interview” meeting is over, your advisor tells you that he will take all the information gleaned from questioning you and prepare a financial plan that maximizes the chances of achieving all your goals. Does that sound familiar?
Next, he asks his financial planning team to prepare the best possible plan for you. His team is experienced and they’ve seen your type of situation before. A few days later your advisor tells you that they have figured it all out. He would like to meet with you to discuss your plan. He has prepared a nice presentation booklet illustrating all the details of your plan.
The problem is that this is not the most effective way to work with clients.
Allow me to offer you a better alternative. It’s called collaborative planning.
Your advisor should sit beside you and work on your financial plan right along with you. This is vital because together you can examine all the different scenarios that YOU can think of while eliminating any biases your advisor may have. It’s not your advisor’s plan. It’s yours. You need to be present and an active participant!
Collaborative planning is the only way for you to ensure that the financial plan is really yours. This way you can satisfy yourself that all the possibilities that you care about have been examined and you get to see firsthand how the various choices you make might impact you. Think of it as mixing all the colors of your life in all the ways you can think of. You get to blend the colors, not someone else.
Your advisor still plays a very important role, as she will help ensure that you consider the many varied options. She will ask you to consider alternatives. Your advisor is there to guide and assist you and to make certain that your plan truly fits.
Finally, collaborative planning is not a one-time event. It should be continuous. You should have 24/7 access to your plan and the investment values in your plan should update automatically so that they are always current. This will allow you to view and consider the impact of changes whenever you want. After all, it’s your plan and it should be much more than just a picture of how your advisor tells you to live your life!
Collaborative planning is what makes financial advice personal and truly valuable.
Is it time to make a change?
Cern Basher, CFA
President & Chief Investment Officer