Many of us need a little outside help when it comes to things like investing and planning for the future, and that’s where financial advisors come into play. However, a 2016 study examining over 1 million records found roughly 7 percent of financial advisors had documented instances of misconduct ranging from negligence to fraud.
Getting stuck with a dishonest advisor could mean losing much of your hard-earned money to fees and exposing yourself to more risk than you’re comfortable taking on. Thankfully, there are plenty of financial advisors who operate with integrity. Here are five positive signs to look out for.
Your advisor talks openly about risk
Most investments come with a degree of risk, and it’s almost always the case that the higher the risk, the higher the reward. Any advisor who tries to downplay the risks associated with investing is effectively doing wrong by his clients. A good advisor will not only talk about risk, but run numbers showing you what you stand to gain and lose in different market scenarios.
You understand what fees you’re paying
Financial advisors have to make money, and they can do that in several ways. Some earn commissions based on the investments they sell. Others earn a fee that’s calculated as a percentage of assets under management. There are also those advisors who take a hybrid approach. Many people prefer fee-based advisors because their fees are somewhat linked to their accounts’ performance – when you do well, your advisor does well, and everybody wins.
Some commission-based advisors may push investments with higher commissions. But in reality, it almost doesn’t matter what your advisor’s compensation structure is as long as he or she is completely open and honest about it. If you’re well-aware of how much you’re paying your advisor, it means you’re dealing with someone who believes in transparency.
Your advisor tries to educate you
Some advisors tend to throw around buzzwords and investment speak, partly to show off, and partly to come across as experts. Those people may very well be experts, but that doesn’t make them trustworthy. A good advisor won’t just try to sell you a certain stock or mutual fund, but will explain your options in detail and encourage you to learn more about what each one entails.
Your advisor asks to meet regularly
When it comes to your portfolio, the last thing you want to do is set it and forget it. But some advisors have a tendency to meet with their clients only when they have new investments to push, or are looking to talk their clients into investing more money. A trustworthy advisor proactively invites you to discuss your investments, review performance, and talk through any concerns.
Your advisor cares about your goals
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to investing, nor is there some magic universal savings target you should aim to have reached by a certain age. Your advisor’s job is to take the time to understand your personal goals and craft a financial plan that works to achieve them. If your advisor seems cognizant of these goals when making recommendations, it’s a sign that he or she is not only listening, but working with your best interests in mind.
Ideally, your financial advisor will be someone you turn to for guidance throughout various stages of your life. If something about your advisor just doesn’t seem right, or you’re not comfortable voicing your concerns about your assets’ performance, you shouldn’t hesitate to make a change. After all, to an extent, your financial future is in your advisor’s hands, and you deserve to feel 100 percent comfortable that you’ve found the right person for the job.
A handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help boost your retirement income. For example, one easy trick could pay you as much as $15,834 more each year!