Why clarity, constancy, and communication should be your perennial perks.
The whole purpose of a financial advisor is to have an ally on your side. The world of finance can be an unpredictable and treacherous one without an advisor who knows their sector. The best can operate with a degree of professional intuition and client sensitivity beyond just possessing solid qualifications.
An example of such, the Certified Financial Planner designation (CFP) is always a good mark to look for. It’s a highly respected brand for a financial advisor to bear, and denotes significant experience and the valuing of a code of ethics.
This being said, many businesses may not be in the best position to judge which advisors are truly worthy of the name. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors offers a handy resource which neatly lays out all the principal concerns.
For now, here are some of the hallmarks of the very best advisors, and the kind of service you should expect from them.
Keeping an eye on your taxes shouldn’t end in April
For many people, once the deadline for getting taxes in order has passed, it’s many months before the subject has to be thought about again. The tax system itself doesn’t sleep, however, and updates and changes to tax law can occur throughout the year. Like all changes in the financial sector, tax shifts have can affect businesses for years to come, as the timeline for the latest tax bill changes illustrates.
In light of this, your financial advisor should be concerned about your taxes at all times, not only as the submission date approaches. They should have a close eye on how ongoing changes to tax law might impact you, and how best to strategically plan and prepare. The business of tax planning is a specialized one, but if your advisor is vigilant in this area, it will be of year-round benefit to you.
Your personal finances should be under constant review
Your advisor should be earning their fee by ensuring your funds are constantly earning, too. If, for example, you have something saved as an emergency fund, it shouldn’t be a static sum simply sitting there. A good financial advisor will see to it that all your assets are earning you as much as they can.
Innovation and proactivity are excellent signs of a good financial advisor. They’ll be in touch with you regularly, especially if you’re in the situation where a buy/sell decision may need to be made quickly.
Shifts in the financial sector are frequent and varied and can have equally varied potential effects on your assets and investments. These dynamic potentials for benefit or risk are your advisor’s responsibility to monitor closely. If they do, you’ll always be in the best possible financial position.
Your financial advisor should broaden your financial understanding
A good advisor will see to it that you never feel lost, confused, or overwhelmed. They should be working with you to provide an ongoing level of education as your level of experience requires; be it from simple savings budgeting right up to making and managing investments. The whole point of them being there is to ensure you know what they know.
Some advisors have a resource cycle with their clients that provide weekly emails, monthly newsletters, white paper reports, and so forth. These provide an ongoing supply of materials that keep clients in-the-know about not only their own finances but the wider financial world.
They should be transparent with you at all times, clearly explaining every step of each process, their reasoning, and your shared responsibilities. Working with an independent financial advisor helps ensure it’s your interests that are being served and not those of an entity the advisor may be retained by.
A good advisor provides constant and objective service
“Year-round” is a phrase that’s actually less than your advisor should provide. They’re a resource not just for this year, but for 5, 10, or even more years into future. Like the professional you’re paying them to be, your financial advisor should be accessible to you 7 days a week to answer any concern. Like the ally you deserve, they should always be realistic about the advice they give you.
The best advisor can balance having your best interests at heart (in line with your goals); a line that may mean cautioning you against things you really feel you want. It’s a blend of working with you yet being healthily impartial that will see the best service being provided to you.
Your advisor should be vigilant and suggest alternatives
Your life and finances are dynamic. Changes in one of these areas will affect the other. Your financial advisor should be able to keep this two-way flow under constant analysis. An upturn in your fortunes will require a responsible re-evaluation of your finances, just as much as a downturn. The requires this consistent attention from your advisor; your long-term needs and goals may be fixed, but the journey there can be much more fluid.
They should be keeping a close eye on your financial goals and projections and offering alternative recommendations where they may be necessary. This will allow you to weigh up your subjective wishes against the objective reality and decide how the two can mesh.
At times, the alternatives may be equally as attractive as your original plans. At others, your advisor may prioritize bedrock capital needs such as having funds saved for retirement, medical expenses, or other potentially expensive situations. It’s what you need to hear, not want to hear, that will serve you best.
A first-class financial advisor is a constant and multi-faceted presence. As advisor, analyst, ally, and educator, it’s their responsibility never to sleep on the job. They’re not only going to help balance your finances and future, they will make sure you both integrate as people. As a team combining your dreams and their direct experience, your financial landscape will be a safer and happier place any day of the year.
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