People plan all the time. We plan vacations, trips, families, businesses, schooling, workouts and the list goes on. But when it comes to planning really important things, there are things you need to know in order to make good decisions.
For example, if you were planning to drive across the country and had a map in front of you, there are things you need to know, even before you start planning. You need to know where North is on the map. You need to know if the map is current, and you need to know if the seasons will have any impact on what roads you can or can’t use. There are things you need to know before you start planning.
The same is true in planning your financial path. It’s great to have a plan, and before you engage in planning with a financial advisor, here are 4 things you should know in order to make sure you end up with a plan that makes sense for you and your family.
#1 Have they done this before for people like me?
There are tens of thousands of financial advisors in Canada. We literally met thousands of them in our careers and there are some fantastic people out there who provide financial guidance and advice.
The question to answer for yourself when you’re speaking to an advisor, is, “Have they been successful with people like me before?” There are advisors who only work with super-elite ultra-affluent families. If that’s you, then there may be a good fit. If that’s not you, they may not be the right answer.
Ask for examples of the clients that they are most successful with (preferably before you tell them much about you) so that you get a good idea of how well they match you.
#2 Can they help me see the whole picture of what I need to plan?
People have questions about their finances and are looking for answers. With those answers, they can then make decisions and act. However, a financial advisor should do more than answer your questions, they should provide leadership.
Look for an advisor who will take the time to really understand what’s going on for you, likely in more detail than you even understood about yourself, so that you can have the confidence you’re getting a complete picture of what you should be doing and why you should be doing it. Financial issues aren’t isolated from one another – they link, connect, and interact. Planning has to take that into consideration.
#3 Do they have a process for planning?
While there are times when some simple advice will move you forward, when it comes to planning, there should be a process. If the answer is, “I take a look at your situation and come up with some ideas that will help,” we think that’s incomplete and inappropriate.
Planning is a discipline and a profession. There is a great deal on the line, namely the financial security and well-being of you and those you care about. Keeping that in mind, it becomes awfully important to have a process for planning. It doesn’t have to be particularly sophisticated and complex, but a process is critical.
Also, an advisory firm that has a documented and unique process is probably more likely to be one who has done this work for a long time and has worked out the “kinks” in planning. That’s reassuring.
#4 Do we “click?”
Finally, work with someone you “click” with. This is a trust exercise. You’re counting on someone to put your needs first and to guide you on a path that you probably aren’t that familiar with. Find a person, or a team, where you connect with one or more of the members of that team.
You deserve to feel comfortable and respected.
For more suggestions on what to ask a Financial Planner, give us a call. Or maybe we’ll even be a great fit. 😉