When you choose to work with a financial professional, you won’t exactly be baring your soul. However, you will reveal a great deal about yourself.
For the relationship to work and to potentially benefit from a financial professional's expertise and guidance, you need to share what are often very intimate details of your life. In addition to providing in-depth information on your income, spending habits, financial goals, and related money matters, you need to be honest about family relationships, plans, and other personal issues.
That’s why the decision to reveal one’s financial goals to someone — and to trust that person to help achieve them — isn’t something most people take lightly. It’s highly personal, making it all the more important for you to know what you expect from a financial professional and have a high level of confidence that you’re working with the right one.
Profile your ideal financial professional
To help prepare you for conducting a search for a financial professional best suited to your needs and expectations, go through the following steps:
1. Think about what you really want in a financial professional. Compile a list to help you determine the must-haves and nice-to-haves.
- Do you prefer to work with someone who specializes in working with people in the same field of work as you are in, that are at the same stage of life, or that may be going through similar life events?
- Does the financial professional's gender matter?
- Would you feel more comfortable with someone of your same race or ethnic background?
- Would you prefer someone that can speak a second language?
- Are you interested in working with someone with extensive experience in an area specific to your current interests, or would you prefer someone with expertise that spans multiple areas?
- Do you prefer a particular communication style? Are you more comfortable with face-to-face meetings or are you hoping to just communicate by text or email?
- Do you want a financial professional that takes control or that welcomes and encourages your participation in all decisions?
- Are you hoping to form a lifelong friendship with your financial professional to a point you frequently socialize, or would you prefer to keep things strictly professional?
- Would you like to work with a financial professional that can also help other members of your family?
2. Once you’ve decided what you want in a financial professional, compile a list of attributes that you’re seeking in both the professional and the company with which the professional is affiliated. Some to consider:
- Client-focused, customer-centric
- A track record of stellar customer service
- Access to extensive resources and market research
- Strong name recognition/brand
Add in any other traits or factors that you feel strongly about. Rank them in order of how important they are to you.
3. Determine your preference for the type of company a financial professional is affiliated with or the type of business model the financial professional employs. Some of the options include big name wirehouses, independent broker-dealers, banks, credit unions, registered investment advisors (RIAs), and hybrid RIAs (brokerage services in addition to independent RIA services).
4. Create a profile of your ideal financial professional. For example:
“My ideal financial professional is a female that is close to my age who specializes in dealing with estate planning and families that have children with disabilities or special needs. I prefer my financial professional to work for an independent broker-dealer within 10 miles of where I live. Trust, transparency, and convenience are the most important attributes I want in a financial professional.”
Keep an open mind
As you go through the financial professional search and evaluation process, the profile of your ideal financial professional could change. That’s particularly true as you learn more about the financial industry, and that’s a good thing. The more you know about your options and the things to consider when choosing a financial professional, the better chance you have of finding one best suited to your needs.
If you’re ready to start your search, use our financial professional search tool.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.