• MICHAEL LOFTUS

What Questions Should I Ask A Financial Advisor?




Today we're going to talk about “Before you hire a financial advisor, what questions should you ask?” Some you may have heard before, others maybe not.


So, what questions to ask an advisor before hiring them. First, what licenses do you hold? The important thing here is, do they have securities license? Because we've had a lot of circumstances with clients working with insurance agents selling certain annuity products who called themselves financial advisors. So make sure they have securities license 7, 66, and 65.


Next, are you a fiduciary? There has been a lot of talk about this. Recently the FCC passed a new ruling on this, still trying to figure it all out, but what it basically says is always put your client’s interests first.


Next, how long have you been in the business? I think this is important. Obviously you want to give everyone an opportunity but a little gray hair never hurts.


How do you get paid for your services and how much does everything cost, all in? There are a couple of things to consider here. You have the cost of the investments. You could have mutual funds, check those fees. You can have individual stocks and bonds which you’re not going to have fees for but you will have trading costs. And then you have ETF’s, Exchange Traded Funds, which is what we use, which are very low cost.





How many households do you work with? For us, our stated goal is 100 households. We know we can't no more than that. So make sure you ask because you want to ensure that you get the attention you deserve. With that number of households, how often can I expect to hear from you?


How would you manage my money? There are those that use the Buy and Hold method. You've got tactical, making changes throughout the markets, something we do. We feel we're end of cycle right now so we add in things like utilities, REITS and bonds. Then you have TPM’s, Third Party Money managers.


How do you manage taxable accounts? Important, I’ve seen a lot of horror stories. Money gets moved over, they sell out of positions and create huge tax bills. Not a good idea. We always make sure to set the expectations, if we're going to sell anything, how much tax bill can you handle each year and put together a plan.


What other services do you offer? I talked about financial planning, insurance, life insurance, long term care and consulting. For us, we do that with our clients, especially our business clients, because of my background.


How will you consider my assets that are not held directly with you? So, if you're still working and have a 401K or a 403b, whatever the case might be, we need to know that because we're looking at the entire financial picture. As a fee-based client we don’t charge you to have this information. However, if you hire us specifically to create a financial plan and once a year we make an allocation change, that would be constitute a charge.


Next question. What happens if I, your client, become incapacitated or pass away? Well, one we want to make sure when you come in, as part of our service, that you have the proper documents. Living wills power of attorneys etc. We're going to adhere to that, whatever that says is what we're going to do. Same with the custodian, who's holding your money.


So last question is, what certifications do you have? This could be a little controversial. One is the CFP. We get a lot of questions about that which is certified financial planner. Then you have some others for the insurance business. CHFC, CLU.


Personally, I don’t hold these certifications for several reasons. One, when a CFP puts together a financial plan they’re using the exact same software that everyone uses, including me. But more importantly I feel my experience on the corporate side of the financial world, where I managed a very large organization, multiple million dollar budgets that were very complex, balance sheets, and forecasting taught me all the things that you learn in a financial planning class, but with real world experience.


The last thing is, this is a relationship business. It's not a question, it's a matter of can you get along. Do you have a lot of same qualities because this is a deep relationship that’s personal and will last years. You want to make sure you get along with that individual and that you are on the same page.

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