With over 200,000 financial advisors across the country, how do you know which one is the right fit to manage your hard-earned money? (1) The financial advisor you choose to work with will have a significant impact on your investment strategy, the fees you pay, and the confidence you have in your financial future. This is not a decision to take lightly, especially since each advisor offers a different level of service, expertise, and ability.
Often, when you find a good advisor that is an ideal match for your situation and personality, you can develop a strong relationship that can last a lifetime and even through multiple generations. As such, you should take your time to find an advisor that meets your family’s needs. When you begin your research, ask potential candidates these 10 questions:
1. How Much Experience Do You Have?
Experience is essential when you’re working with a professional of any kind, especially someone handling your finances. Speak with an advisor about their industry experience. It will give you peace of mind to know what market conditions they’ve experienced and how many years they’ve been working in the industry. At ATL Global Advisors, our team has nearly 100 years of cumulative experience in the financial services industry.
2. Do You Hold Any Credentials?
At ATL Global Advisors, we take credentials seriously, and we think you should too. Credentials and education play a big part in your advisor’s competency. There are hundreds of designations in the financial services industry and some are more applicable to your needs than others. (2) Consider a MBA from an accredited 2 year program or a Registered Financial Consultant who has received a high level of training in the financial planning field and is required to stay up-to-date in the industry through mandatory continuing education courses. Use DesignationCheck.com to learn more about the credentials financial advisors can earn.
3. What Financial Planning Services Do You Offer?
Not all financial advisors can provide comprehensive financial planning. Others cannot sell insurance or securities, like mutual funds or stocks, if they don’t have the appropriate licenses. Ask a financial advisor what services they provide and whether or not they have a specialty. At ATL Global Advisors, we specialize in providing a robust set of financial and retirement planning services for individuals, families, and business owners.
4. What is Your Planning Philosophy?
It’s important to work with an advisor who shares a similar planning and investing philosophy to you. If you’re nearing retirement, you may not want to work with an aggressive stockbroker, whereas if you’re new to investing, you may not want to be too conservative. Talk with an advisor about how he or she guides clients’ investing and financial decisions. At ATL Global Advisors, we seek to strike optimal balances between investment options, qualified plans, social security, and other sources of income and capital. We want to minimize tax liability and determine opportunities that may increase yield and reduce costs. We meet with our clients on a quarterly basis to review their allocation strategy, performance of individual accounts, and discuss rebalancing options and whether or not initial recommendations have changed.
5. Who Do You Serve?
Some financial advisors specialize in serving a specific demographic or level of investable assets, so you’ll want to find this out before choosing an advisor. For example, if you’re a business owner, you may be better suited to work with an advisor specializing in helping business owners. We specialize in helping UPS and other transportation and logistics employees and retirees with their comprehensive financial and retirement planning needs. In addition, we serve business owners and working professionals who have worked hard to accumulate their wealth and strive to make prudent choices with their money to ensure it lasts. These individuals include business owners, CPAs, engineers, expats, and high net worth families.
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’ll work one-on-one. This is important to know so you can meet the other team members with whom you might be collaborating. While our team often collaborates with one another, each client is partnered with a dedicated personal advisor with whom they will primarily work. Each client also has access to a Client Concierge and a Planner to help them feel secure that they are receiving the personalized attention they deserve. Depending on a client's needs, we may also call in a specialist to assist, such as an estate attorney, CPA, or insurance agent.
7. How Much Do You Charge?
Financial planning and investment costs can be confusing. And too often, financial advisors don’t readily disclose their fees. At ATL Global Advisors, we believe it’s important for our clients to know our costs upfront and understand how we get paid. During the first step of our comprehensive 7-step process, we review all fees and investing costs before implementing any strategies or creating a plan. We want our clients to feel comfortable with their strategies and confident that they are no hidden fees eating away at their hard-earned savings.
8. Do You Receive a Commission?
Some financial advisors working with big wirehouses earn their income on commissions. The problem with this is that advisors working on commission may be inclined to sell products that aren’t best suited for a client’s needs. As fee-based independent financial advisors, we charge a percentage of your assets under our management. The better your investments perform, the more we earn. Avoiding conflicts of interest, we instead focus on what we believe will best meet your goals and needs.
9. Are You a Fiduciary?
An advisor who serves as a fiduciary accepts a responsibility to put her client’s interests first and foremost in all decisions. A fiduciary is supposed to avoid conflicts of interest and remain unbiased in her recommendations and advice. We agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, and as a fiduciary, we believe in transparency and that the client comes first.
10. Have You Ever Violated Any Standards or Laws?
It’s a good idea to check an advisor’s credentials and run a background with regulatory agencies. Some advisors may have been subjected to disciplinary action if they violated any laws or if a client took action against them. You can look up an advisor’s professional history by visiting FINRA’s BrokerCheck. This database will also show you the years of experience an advisor has and the licenses and credentials he or she has.
Take your time and trust your intuition when selecting your advisor. The relationship should feel right and you should never feel pressured to make a decision quickly. An advisor should be happy to answer these questions and any others you may have about how they operate.
At ATL Global Advisors, we believe in complete transparency and want our clients to feel comfortable working with us and asking any questions they may have. If you’d like to learn more about our answers to these questions or any others you may have, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can start now by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 404-303-9994.
Gary Lutrick, MBA, RFC is a financial advisor and partner at ATL Global Advisors, an independent financial services firm serving transportation and logistics employees in the greater Atlanta area. Along with nearly 30 years of industry experience, he holds a MBA in finance and the Registered Financial Consultant (RFC) certification. He focuses on helping his clients plan for retirement, manage risk, and define financial objectives that integrate their family values. Learn more by connecting with Gary on LinkedIn.