By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Perhaps you’ve used the same financial adviser for many years, maybe even your parent’s favorite firm. Why should you consider changing firms?
Here are a few reasons, according to three financial advisers interviewed for this story:
From Scott, president and chartered financial consultant Cynthia at OMC Financial Services, Ltd., DeWitt:
1. “Does your adviser call you back on timely basis? We had a client who said they’d been trying to get in touch with their adviser for two weeks. We return phone calls that day or the next day. When a client calls up, they call because they need something or have a problem. They don’t want to wait for two weeks. The analogy I use is how many people call their doctor to say, ‘I wanted to tell you I feel fantastic.’ They only call when there’s a problem.
2. “Do they meet with you at least annually? That’s important, to go over if anything’s changed and to make sure you understand your portfolio. There are lots of reasons to meet with someone. You should meet if there’s a change from your overall financial situations or life events —like losing your job or relocating.
3. “Are you with the right adviser based upon the size of your portfolio? Are you too small to get the attention you need or are you so large that the adviser can’t handle your portfolio appropriately?
4. “When you do meet with your adviser, do they go over your entire financial program, including an updated will, power of attorney, etcetera? A lot of financial advisers don’t ask about these. If the person isn’t looking at your entire picture, you might want to look at someone who is.”
From Jeff Layhew owner, president and financial adviser with Wealth Resources Network, Liverpool:
5. “The adviser should do what they say they do — not regarding rate of return — but if someone wants to change a beneficiary, for example. Do they confirm what they do? With estate planning, there are a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross.
6. “If you’re a married individual, does the adviser talk with both parties if both want to be involved? Sometimes, we have the tendency to talk only with the party who’s talking with us. If the spouse chooses not to answer, that’s fine, but I want to try to engage both.
7. “If it’s really important to you to have continuity and you’re dealing with a 70-year-old financial adviser, it may be difficult when that person retires or passes away. If they don’t have a staff or partner, what happens then? We make our businesses more valuable if we communicate to clients, ‘This is who will take over in five or 10 years’ because part of the sale is ‘X’ number of clients will stay.
8. “Check out your broker at FINRA. You can see licensing, see how long in the business and see if there’re any negative marks on the business if you’re looking for a new one.”
From Caragh Fahy, owner, certified financial planner, Madison Financial Planning Group, Syracuse:
9. “If you’re more confused when you leave a meeting than when you arrive. Planners often get caught up in the industry jargon.
10. “If the adviser is more reactive than proactive. Clients shouldn’t have to manage the relationship, waiting to hear back.
11. “If they only look at your investments. For a lot of offices, that means investment management. We don’t view finances in a silo. There are so many facets of it like taxes and estate planning. We plan holistically. When it’s coordinated across all facets; clients are best served that way.
12. “If the adviser doesn’t have a specialty. The financial industry is so broad. It’s hard to be all things to all people. Our practice specializes in the retirement transition, so we understand the nuances of that phase of financial planning. It’s not the same conversation with someone who’s 25 and is just starting working. Younger clients may be children of existing clients and we try to be helpful. But boomers advancing towards retirement are our niche.
13. “If they don’t incorporate technology into their practice. We’ve found the use of technology has helped us be more efficient in clients’ time. Online financial dashboards let clients access their information. We’re doing more electronic account servicing. Lack of technology can be a sign of complacency.”