10 Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor
While a variety of options can be a great thing, it can also be overwhelming, especially when it comes to your finances. It’s easy to stress and have doubts about your decision. The same can be true when it comes to choosing a financial advisor. How do you know they have your best interests in mind? How do you know if they’re a good fit for your personal situation?
Choosing a financial advisor is an important task and can make a drastic difference in your investment strategy, the fees you pay, and your overall confidence in your financial future. Because this is such an important step to take, it’s imperative to take your time to find the right advisor for you. When you are ready to start your advisor search, here are 10 questions to ask the potential candidates.
1. Are You a Fiduciary?
There’s 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’re 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 doesn’t fit those descriptions, they may still act as a fiduciary in certain situations, like sharing a recommendation, but not necessarily when selling products.
New Century Investments is a no-load, independent investment advisory firm. As fiduciaries, we believe transparent advice starts with the best interest of the client.
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. (1)
Personally, I have the CFP® certification, which stands for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. This designation requires comprehensive education and experience. As a firm, we pursue education and credentials because of how dedicated we are to providing unparalleled client service.
3. What Is Your Planning and Investment Philosophy?
It’s important to work with an advisor who shares planning and investing philosophies 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 New Century Investments, we know that a sound asset allocation strategy is a key way you can turn your wealth into new ways to live your best life. Our investment strategies are customized to your unique goals and needs so you can maximize your growth while protecting your wealth.
4. What Are the All-In Costs?
Financial planning and investment costs can be confusing. In addition to paying an advisor, some firms may have other hidden fees you will want to be aware of. And too often financial advisors don’t readily disclose these. We want our clients to feel comfortable with their strategies and are upfront with our fee structure. New Century Investments is a fee-only financial planning firm. This means we have no outside or hidden costs and most importantly, no commissions. Our fee is based on the assets we manage and the planning services we provide. It is our mission to provide clients with more value (both financially and emotionally) than our small fee. And as fiduciaries, we always put the needs of our clients first.
5. Who Do You Serve?
Some financial advisors focus on serving a specific demographic or level of investable assets, so you’ll want to find this out before choosing an advisor. Why is this important? Because you deserve advice and services tailored to your unique needs. New Century Investments works with retirees, pre-retirees, individuals with company retirement plans, and small business owners. We have deep knowledge in both financial markets and tax law.
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, which doesn’t give you the time to really build a strong client-advisor relationship. How can you trust that a financial advisor you have barely ever met has your best interest in mind? At New Century Investments, we don’t have a massive team of hundreds of advisors, which means we can spend a lot of time getting to know our clients and their goals, and we strive to put your dreams at the heart of your financial plan. We also partner with a tax advisor who possesses a wealth of tax and investment knowledge and implements financial planning strategies that keep tax costs low.
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 don’t have the appropriate licenses. Ask a financial advisor what services they provide, whether or not 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 particular services and solutions over others. Our comprehensive services include financial planning, investment strategies, retirement planning for individuals and small business owners, forward tax planning, insurance analysis, estate review, 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:
- Our firm has been around for more than 30 years. Over the years, we have created proven and reliable systems and processes that we use to help our clients work toward their goals.
- Our advice is tailored to you. We do the legwork to get to know you, your situation, your dreams, and your challenges. You are an individual with a unique career. Our specialized touch can make all the difference.
- We build our client relationships on integrity, dependability, and accountability. We are passionate about what we do, and confident in how we do it.
9. How Will Our Relationship Work?
In other words, how accessible will your financial advisor be? We are significant partners alongside our client, investing in the same ETFs or mutual funds we recommend. We promise to always put the interest of our clients first. And we promise to provide transparent and consistent communication with our clients to ensure their financial assets are positioned to accumulate and preserve long-term wealth.
10. How Do 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 make a decision 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.
Don’t Rush Into Anything
An advisor should be happy to answer these questions and any others you may have about how they operate. If you don’t know where to start, ask friends and family for referrals to set you down the right path.
We at New Century Investments believe in complete transparency and want our clients to feel comfortable working with us and asking questions. If you’d like to learn more about our answers to these questions or any others, schedule a complimentary introductory consultation today by calling us at 817-238-6300, emailing Matt.Ward@NewCenturyInvestments.com, or scheduling an appointment online.
Matt Ward is a financial advisor and the president of New Century Investments, an independent investment advisory firm serving business owners, pre-retirees, and retirees in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and beyond. Matt is passionate about integrating investing, planning, and tax management into a holistic approach. Matt’s breadth of knowledge and experience in both taxes and investment management sets him apart, giving him the ability to design, advise on, and manage business strategies, tax efficiency, and retirement planning. He is known for his care and attention to detail and works hard to develop personal relationships with each of his clients so they can benefit from his customized service and guidance. He loves walking with his clients through their financial journey, supporting them and celebrating with them as they reach their goals.
Matt graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠ professional. When he’s not working, you can find Matt hiking, playing the guitar, and spending time with his family. To learn more about Matt, connect with him on LinkedIn.