The last several months have tested us in almost every aspect of life. Markets continue to swing back and forth. For some, the workplace has moved to the home, while others are navigating a return to the office. Investors are wading through the emotions that come with life-altering challenges: shifting priorities, health scares, job loss, managing back-to-school options, protests against racial injustice. Face masks are part of our daily uniform, and social-distancing floor stickers line store aisles. Protests continue in many cities across the country. Tensions are high, and trust is wavering.
This unexpected set of circumstances is reshaping the way we see the world, our leaders, and the people we trust to manage our money.
What are you looking for in an advisor that you hadn’t considered before? How do you define value under these new expectations? What will it take to maintain trust in a world full of misinformation?
If you’re like me, you crave tangible value and a meaningful connection. Trust is at the heart of it.
Our clients sometimes confess they’re more anxious about meeting with us, their advisor, than with their own doctor! Why? Money remains an intimidating and sometimes taboo topic. Especially now, as the world struggles to rebalance itself in the wake of recent events. Earning your trust should be your advisor’s No. 1 priority. You should feel at ease and fully confident as you walk out the door.
Here are three potential questions that can help you as you reflect on your feelings toward economic conditions and on the relationship you want with your advisor.
1. Can I Trust You with My Money?
It’s a question on many investors’ minds, particularly when they begin a relationship with a financial advisor or when we feel the need to react to volatility. Are you confident in your financial plan? You should be. Ask your advisor about their proven process. How do they ensure your wealth is handled with care? Do they have digital processes, data privacy and procedures to ensure your information is secure and reflects your decisions? Your advisor should be able to explain their fees, outline the benefits of having a clear financial plan and lay out the various communication methods they use to keep you informed.
2. Are You Going to Put My Interests Ahead of Your Own?
The American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) reported a few years ago that some 65% of Americans don’t believe that their advisor – or the firm they represent – acts with their best interests in mind. Without question, you should be working with an advisor you trust. Ask your advisor about their firm’s code of conduct. Ask them if they are a fiduciary and to articulate how that affects the way they do business. The bottom line: Your advisor should be able to demonstrate that their business is built around helping you achieve your goals before anyone else’s.
3. Will You Inform Me of Something I Need Before I Know I Need It?
This is where the great advisors separate themselves from the good ones. To serve investors in this way, advisors need the technology, the support and the back-end processes to innovate and anticipate your needs. Great advisors build a relationship with you, so they can understand your financial philosophy to help you reach your goals. Have recent events changed the way you think about money? Is money a source of stress, frustration, intimidation, relief or something else? Is your advisor working to understand your perspective and counsel you accordingly? When your advisor understands how you feel about money, they can offer you more personalized advice and services that fit your needs.
Our firm understands the importance of these questions, and we’re prepared to answer them for every one of our clients. Our top priority is helping clients pursue their goals and doing what’s in their best interest. It’s how we believe every advisor should approach serving you, especially in this new era of ever-evolving complexity and uncertainty.