Retirement · September 18, 2020

Choose a Financial Advisor Who Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

When you choose a financial advisor, you're not simply selecting someone to handle your investments. You're joining forces with an experienced partner who can offer advice on how to achieve your financial goals, build your family's future and develop a wealth management plan that aligns with your values. That's why it's important to choose the right person, someone you feel comfortable discussing your financial goals and dreams with.

What to consider before you choose a financial advisor

The following questions will help you narrow your search for the right advisor and guide your decision about whom to hire.

What are my financial goals?

The answer to this question will change at different stages in your life. Today, your core concern might be establishing a college savings fund for your child. But a few years down the road, you may focus more on retirement or establishing a philanthropic legacy. Ideally, you'll work with an expert who can help you throughout each point in your financial journey. If possible, choose a financial advisor who has experience with a range of concerns and who will integrate your values and goals into a long-term plan.

Is this person a fiduciary advisor?

This question is important because fiduciary advisors are legally obligated to recommend products and strategies tailored to your goals. That means they can't suggest products simply to earn a commission—if the product doesn't make sense for you, they're barred from pushing it. Non-fiduciary advisors are not bound by the same standards, so you may not trust their advice and recommendations as readily as you would their fiduciary peers.

What are this advisor's credentials?

Before hiring a financial advisor, find out what certifications they hold and whether any complaints have been filed against them. You can use the Securities and Exchange Commission's free online database to find that information. Remember, it's critical that you trust your financial advisor, so make sure you know their credentials are legitimate and that there are no professional red flags to warn you off them. 

Some of the most common credentials and certifications to look for include:

  • Certified Public Accountant, or CPA
  • Certified Financial Planner, or CFP
  • Chartered Financial Consultant, or ChFC
  • Chartered Financial Analyst, or CFA
  • Chartered Investment Counselor, or CIC

Do I want to meet with an advisor face-to-face?

Digital platforms make financial advising more accessible than ever, but the question is, are you comfortable with a virtual advisory service? Because money can become an emotional topic, especially in the context of planning for your family's future and legacy, you may be more comfortable working with someone locally. You can get a feel for their personality during in-person meetings and determine whether they inspire the confidence that sustains long-term consulting relationships. Alternatively, meeting face-to-face virtually through video conferencing might be more convenient for you while still providing an opportunity for human connection.

How much will these services cost?

Financial advisors charge based on different fee structures, so ask about these in advance. You want to be absolutely clear on how much you'll be paying for their services so you can gauge what suits your budget and whether you feel each advisor's offerings are worth what they charge. Fee structures may include hourly or monthly fees, annual retainer fees or a percentage of your assets under management with that advisor. Some advisors earn through a combination of fees plus commissions on investment products, while others earn strictly on commission. You can also find fee-only advisors, who don't earn on products but only through the fees you pay. And some financial institutions may provide advisor services free of charge if you have a certain amount of money in accounts with them.

Choosing a financial advisor is a major decision, so give yourself the time to consider your needs, meet with several firms and select the person who inspires your confidence and trust. By working with the right advisor, you take a huge step toward achieving your financial goals and building your wealth for years to come.


A few financial insights for your life

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This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. First Citizens Bank (or its affiliates) neither endorses nor guarantees this information, and encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.