If you're like most people, you have a variety of financial goals: college for your children, a comfortable retirement, a vacation home and so on.
You might be able to achieve all these goals on your own, but you will likely find it a lot easier if you get a little help from a financial advisor.
But how do you choose the right one? For starters, ask your friends, relatives and co-workers who they use. Then interview some of the people they recommend. What questions should you ask at such an interview? Consider these:
What are your qualifications?
Make sure you are talking to someone who, at a minimum, has all the required licenses for selling securities.
What type of experience do you have?
Find out how long someone has been a financial advisor, but don't rule out a person with only a limited amount of experience. A new financial advisor frequently brings a great deal of enthusiasm to his or her work. A financial advisor's longevity is less important than whether he or she has had experience working with someone in your financial situation, with your goals and your investment preferences.
What is your investment philosophy?
Try to learn if someone favors a specific style of investing or a particular class of investments. These styles or classes may be well suited for some investors, but inappropriate for others. If you believe the person you're talking to has a "one-size-fits-all" mentality, you might want to look elsewhere.
How will you communicate with me?
Financial advisors run their business in different ways, so there's no one "right" way of communicating with clients. However, you need to feel comfortable that someone will always be available to answer your questions, review your accounts, evaluate your situation and make appropriate recommendations. If you are interviewing someone who has a partner or an assistant, find out who you are likely to be communicating with, should you decide to become a client.
What services do you provide?
Find out just how a prospective financial advisor can help you. For example, some people sell investments only, while others offer investments and insurance. Keep in mind, though, that you don't need to be a "one-stop" shopper when it comes to obtaining a wide range of services.
In fact, you might want to ask a prospective financial advisor if he or she has developed working relationships with legal and tax advisors. This "team" approach can be quite beneficial to you, especially when you get into the area of estate planning.
How are you paid?
Financial advisors get paid in several different ways: fees, commissions, salary or some combination of these methods. One way isn't necessarily any "better" than another, from your point of view, but you should have a clear understanding of what type of compensation is being used.
Your association with a financial advisor is one of the most important business relationships you'll ever have, so make sure it's a good one right from the start.
Vivian Cubilla is a bilingual financial advisor with Edward Jones. Her office is located on 12575 S. U.S. Highway One, Suite 203 in Juno Beach. Contact her at (561) 799-3340.