What makes a great financial adviser?

Listening to the advice of a great financial adviser may not make you rich, but it is an excellent way to assure you that you are on the right path toward achieving your financial goals. Just like some accountants or some solicitors are better than others, some financial advisers are better than others. With almost as wide a pool of financial advisers to choose from as there are colours in a rainbow, how do you decide which one is right for you? Look for signs. Before you hire a financial adviser, make sure he or she possesses all of the following attributes:

1. Looks out for your best interests

When you hire a financial adviser you want to be sure that you can trust that person to always give advice that is in your best interests. Before you hire an adviser, ask for testimonials and have him or her explain how he or she can help you achieve your financial goals.

2. Great relationship

You will be spending a lot of time with your financial adviser so it is really important that you feel at ease when talking about money and how to manage it. You should have an open line of communication and be comfortable calling and talking to your adviser any time you have a question or a problem.

3. Full disclosure from the start

When you engage the services of a financial adviser you are often entering into a form of contract. In return for your business, you expect a certain level of service. While no one can guarantee that every investment can turn out perfect, your adviser should clearly state what services he or she will provide. The agreement(s) you enter into should clearly disclose the fees, service expectations and protection levels.

4. Understands your entire financial situation

One of the things that distinguishes an average financial adviser from an outstanding one is his ability to ask great questions that really get you thinking. Your adviser asks those questions because he needs to get to know who you are before he can create a plan to put you on the right path for meeting your future financial goals. If he does not know you, he cannot know how much of volatility you are willing to take and he can only guess at the types of investments you may need.

5. Has the right qualifications

You can’t expect that the free investment advice you get from a family member will always be sound advice, but you should expect it to be sound advice when it comes from a professional with solid credentials. A financial adviser must have been trained and passed demanding tests that demonstrate competency in the field.

6. Experienced

No matter how smart someone is in school, nothing can replace years of experience. A veteran adviser, who has helped hundreds or thousands of clients, understands what works best in real-life situations. Often aided by a company that has a great deal of resources, your adviser should be well-versed in the specific advice he gives.

7. Takes a realistic approach

A great financial adviser should be tough with you and not simply accept orders. You don’t want someone who will not challenge you. You want honest advice, even if it seems contrary to your personal beliefs. If you want to make all of your own financial choices, you don’t need a financial adviser.

8. Has no complaints

You should do a little investigating to make sure that the financial adviser you are considering does not have any trouble within the market. While a minor infraction may be nothing to worry about, multiple complaints or serious offenses can be troubling.

9. Talks to you in a language you can understand

A financial adviser needs to be sure that his client really understands what he is saying when he is giving advice or explaining a particular financial product. Not everyone understands terminology like puts and calls, bond yields or even exchange rates. An adviser can often improve communication with his client by drawing analogies, using visual aids, and listening.

10. Keeps up with change

Tax laws change and new financial products are introduced. Your adviser should be well-versed on all the relevant laws, rules and changes that could affect your portfolio. Embracing technology will make it easier to serve you better and also enable your financial adviser to stay current on the latest news and information.

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