When you have a lot of money, it’s easy to see why you might want to have a financial advisor.
Most people don’t grow up with that kind of money available to them. This lack of direct experience means they largely aren’t sure how to do anything but spend that money – or maybe keep some of it stowed away.
However, even if they do get someone to help with the financial planning, they might not know how to get the most out of one. There’s more to getting a good financial advisor than just hiring whoever has the best pitch.
Here’s a quick look at the kind of questions you should ask your prospective financial advisor. Be sure to ask these before you sign up for the service!
Ask if they’re part of the Financial Planning Association of Australia.
Check what their fees are, and what those fees cover. It’s important to know what you’re getting for your money, and whether or not that’s enough value for what you’re shelling out. Sometimes, a financial advisor charges per-hour, while others are on a retainer.
Don’t ask about returns. Or rather, don’t just ask about returns. Ask them how those happened and how long it took.
It’s not impossible to get a 200% return on investment, given enough time and the right choices. It’s much more impressive to get moderate returns reliably, over a reasonable period of time. This is what you want unless you expect to live forever.
Make sure you know how they balance risks and advantages. Learn how they intend to balance things to keep you out of trouble. Every planner will tell you that 8% with low volatility is better than 8% with high risk, but they don’t tell you how they control the risks.
Ask about what services they offer on top of advice and fund management.
Do they offer detailed reports, so you can analyze the situation yourself? Do they offer regular meetings and consultations, so you’re updated on the progress? Are they focused on indexed markets, which might not be something you want?
Finally, ask about their ethical and personal record. If they’re good, they’ll give you an honest answer. Be sure to check with regulatory boards and the internet to see if their claims are legitimate.
Do they have any previous or outstanding cases against them? Are they in any legal trouble? Have they been found or suspected of any unscrupulous deeds? The ethics and behaviour of your financial advisor are just as important as their ability to make you money.