We have so many choices today—some big, some small. From where to have dinner to where to buy a home, there is a lot of information to sift through to make an informed decision.
Finding a trusted financial advisor is no different. How do you know that the person you are entrusting with your most sensitive assets is the right person to work with? Here, we want to share 10 questions you can ask a financial professional to help you decide if they are the advisor for you.
1. Are You a Fiduciary?
There is a reason this is the first question—its importance cannot be overstated! An advisor who serves as a fiduciary accepts a responsibility to put his or her clients’ interests first and foremost in all decisions. A fiduciary is legally required to avoid conflicts of interest and remain unbiased in their recommendations and advice.
How can you know for certain that an advisor you are interviewing is a fiduciary? The firm will either be listed as a Registered Investment Advisor or the advisors on the team will hold certifications that hold them to the fiduciary standard, such as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Chartered Financial Analyst®, or Certified Public Accountant professional designations. Keep in mind, if the advisor does not fit those descriptions, they may still act as a fiduciary in certain situations, like sharing a recommendation, but not necessarily when selling products.
Wellstone Wealth Management is a Registered Investment Advisory firm and abides by the fiduciary standard of professional conduct. We believe in transparency and honesty, doing what we say and serving in your best interest.
2. Do You Hold Any Credentials?
We take credentials seriously, and we think you should too. Credentials and education play a critical role in your advisor’s competence. There are hundreds of designations in the financial services field, and some are more applicable to your needs than others.
Our managing member, Greg Allen, is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, which is one of the most prestigious certifications in the financial industry. As a firm, we pursue education and credentials because of how dedicated we are to providing unparalleled client service.
Use a designation-check database to learn more about the credentials financial advisors can earn, and ask the advisors you are researching what they do to continually hone their skills and stay up to date in the industry.
3. What Is Your Planning and Investment Philosophy?
It is important to work with an advisor who shares a planning approach and investing philosophy similar to your own. Does your advisor stick to a scientific, evidence-based approach? Do they believe in buy-and-hold or do they move to cash when the market looks shaky? Talk with an advisor about how they guide clients’ investing and financial decisions.
At Wellstone Wealth Management, we know that a sound asset allocation strategy is a key factor in creating a confident financial future. Our investment strategies are customized to your unique goals and needs so you can maximize your growth while protecting your wealth.
4. How Much Do You Charge?
Financial planning and investment costs can be confusing. And too often financial advisors do not readily disclose their fees.
At Wellstone Wealth Management, we take pride in our transparent fee structure. We are compensated through two fees:
- Recurring planning fee, which is charged for our financial planning services.
- Assets under management (AUM) fee based on the value of your assets. This is for our investment management services.
We are also moving toward a fee-only compensation structure so clients feel comfortable with their strategies and confident that there are no hidden fees eating away at their hard-earned savings. As part of this transition, we no longer sell commissioned products.
5. Who Do You Serve?
Some financial advisors focus on serving a specific demographic or level of investable assets, so you will want to find this out before choosing an advisor. Why is this important? Because you deserve advice and services tailored to your unique needs.
We specialize in working with corporate executives and upper-management couples who are focused on retirement planning. Our clients typically live upper-middle-class lives and are aggressive accumulators of their retirement wealth. They have a vision for what they want their retirement to be but are not sure how to get there. We also work well with clients who are more focused on return on life instead of return on investment. They have positive attitudes and calm demeanors and recognize the value of working with professionals to create financial confidence and peace in their lives. They desire to live a life of meaning and purpose, and to create a meaningful legacy for their posterity.
6. Who Else On Your Team Will Be Working With Me?
At some firms, you may work with multiple financial advisors depending on your appointment time or needs, while other firms may pair you up with one financial advisor with whom you will work one-on-one. This is important to know so you can meet the other team members with whom you might be collaborating.
At our firm, you will work with our Managing Member, Greg Allen, who is assisted by our Director of Client Services, Janet Meany. Greg spends a lot of time getting to know our clients and their goals, and he strives to put your dreams at the heart of your financial plan.
7. What Financial Planning Services Do You Offer?
Not all financial advisors can provide comprehensive financial planning. Some cannot sell insurance or securities, such as mutual funds or stocks, if they do not have the appropriate licenses. Ask a financial advisor what services they provide, whether they have a focus, and if they offer a broad spectrum of solutions to meet your needs. When creating a plan together, be sure to ask your advisor why they are recommending services and solutions over others.
Our comprehensive services include retirement planning, asset management, cash flow analysis, estate planning, tax strategies, philanthropic strategies, divorce planning, executive benefits optimizations, and more.
8. What Sets You Apart From Other Financial Advisors?
We know you have plenty of options to choose from, but there are a few things we do differently:
- As CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, Wellstone has a fiduciary duty to adhere to Standards of Professional Conduct and always put your interests first. We hold our code of ethics close to heart and take our time to get to know our clients so we can always act in their best interests.
- We know that wealth is deeply personal. We take the time to understand what matters most and why to our clients and their families so we can always act in a manner that puts their unique circumstances in perspective and builds compassion into everything we do.
- We bring our clients and other financial experts to the table to ensure any decision we make is sound and well-considered. Only by working together, and staying open to new knowledge and resources, do long-term financial plans succeed.
9. Do You Offer a Client Portal?
We believe it is important to see the big picture and all the moving parts of your financial life. When you decide to work with us, you will have access to WealthFocus and an online platform where you can see all your accounts in one place, view performance reports, and check your financial plan documents. You can access these platforms through our website.
10. How Can I Know if Your Firm Is Right for Me?
When selecting your advisor, the relationship should feel right, and you should never feel pressured to decide quickly. We offer a complimentary consultation, where you can ask questions, evaluate our processes and services, determine if our personality is a good fit, and give you the information you need to make an informed decision.
Do Not Rush Into Anything
An advisor should be happy to answer these questions and any others you may have about how they operate. If you are looking for a trusted advisor, we would be happy to answer these questions and more. Schedule a complimentary introductory meeting by contacting us at 503-594-1210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Allen is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, Life-Centered Financial Planner, Managing Member, and second-generation owner of Wellstone Wealth Management, a life-centered financial planning firm that takes a unique Return on Life (ROL) approach to help their clients live the best life possible with the money they have. With over 20 years of experience, Greg holds fast to his mission of helping clients plan their finances around their lives, instead of the other way around, resulting in fulfillment, confidence, and a meaningful life. Greg also provides a caring, trusted long-term relationship and life-centered financial behavioral counseling. He specializes in working with people who have recently retired or are close to it (typically five years or less) and relates well to corporate executives and upper-management couples who often have complicated financial pictures and need help maximizing their wealth, reducing their taxes, and preparing for retirement so they can maintain their ideal lifestyle.
When he is not helping his clients find meaning and purpose, you can find Greg spending time with his friends and family, especially his wife, Sandy, children, and grandchildren. As a native Oregonian, Greg loves the outdoors, visiting the Oregon Coast, and retreating to their family cabin in the mountains. He enjoys staying involved with his church, reading, watching sports, and anything to do with exercise and wellness. To learn more about Greg, connect with him on LinkedIn.
Information provided herein is provided by Wellstone Wealth Management, LLC. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Information was compiled from third-party sources believed to be reliable and accurate but cannot be guaranteed. Investment advisory services are offered through Oswego Wealth Advisors, Inc., an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Neither Wellstone Wealth Management, LLC nor Oswego Wealth Advisors, Inc render any legal, accounting, or tax advice. All investments involve risk, are not guaranteed, and may lose value. We recommend that all investors consult with a qualified adviser to assess your personal situation before implementing any strategy.
Please remember to contact your advisor when your financial circumstances or objectives change. Your advisor may recommend adjustments to your financial planning and investment strategies to better suit your current situation.