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How to Choose a Financial Advisor

How to Choose a Financial Advisor

I read an article recently about how difficult it is to find a female financial advisor. Having been in the financial services industry since 2000, I can agree I have encountered many more men than I have women, and that trend continues. Being a woman in this field, it’s nice to know there is a growing demand for our expertise!

Having worked predominately with men, I can understand why some people, most often women, would prefer to work with a female advisor. Women are wired differently than men. We tend to be better educators and caregivers, not just Monte Carlo number crunchers. We tend to see a larger picture than just the investments at hand. We tend to speak in a language that is understandable, rather than industry jargon. When it comes to other professional women, we have walked in their shoes and know what the journey really means.

When it comes to selecting a financial advisor, however, experience and expertise should be guiding factors. A financial advisor should be holistic and help to develop, implement, and monitor a financial plan, which includes estate planning and tax considerations.

[Related: Four Steps to Your Emergency Fund]

Is this person willing to act in your best interest by coordinating with your attorney and CPA? If a person has these important qualifications, then ask yourself if you are comfortable with them. Are they trustworthy? Can you sit down and easily relate your financial situation, your concerns, your goals, and your dreams?

Does the person you are interviewing listen to the extra details? While the names of your children may not hold a great deal of relevancy to your financial plan, knowing who they are shows you that this advisor cares about the people involved in your life and your plan. As you look to interview a prospective financial advisor, create a checklist of the things that matter to you most.

With your checklist in hand, now what? Let's say you are a professional woman in your mid 30s. Can only a woman understand you? Now you are a professional man in your late 50s and in the early stages of planning for retirement. Is a middle-aged man your ideal advisor? What if you are a successful, married couple in your 40s with three children? Do you draw straws? Rock, paper, scissors?

[Related: Trust, Transparency & Triumph: Talking About Your Family’s Future]

I propose that there is something much greater than either a qualified woman or a man. In my experience, the best financial advisor is a qualified, established team of men and women of different ages. When you are looking at experience and expertise, teams tend to offer a lot more of both.

Teams that have been established for several years or more tell you they have worked together and the dynamics of their relationship as a team are working. Assuming the team you interview successfully meets the requirements of your checklist, you can count on someone being available when you need them.

Great teams do their best to always have a team member in the office. They strive to communicate with each other on a daily basis, so any one member could pick up your phone call and know how to help you. They have both men and women, because they know their clients may prefer one or the other when communicating with them. And they are prepared to help generations of your family without interruption by having a good succession plan of advisors you already know and trust.

[Related: Creating a Safety Net For Your Family with Smart Legal & Financial Planning]


Coleen Kramer Beal is the administrative manager and first point of contact for the Velnoskey Wealth Management Group at Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC.

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