Ten Questions To Ask Your Financial Advisor

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With over 200,000 financial advisors across the country, how do you know which one will be the right fit for your situation and personality? (1) The financial advisor you choose to handle your family’s wealth will have a significant impact on your investment strategy, the fees you pay, and your confidence in your financial future. This is not a decision to take lightly, especially since each advisor has a different level of service, expertise, and ability.

Often, when you find a good advisor, you can develop a strong relationship that can last a lifetime and even through multiple generations. As such, you should take your time to find an advisor that meets your family’s needs. When you start your advisor search, ask potential candidates these 10 questions:

1. How Much Experience Do You Have?

Experience is essential when you’re working with a professional of any kind, especially someone handling your finances. Don’t be shy about asking an advisor about their industry experience. It will give you peace of mind to know what market conditions they’ve experienced and how many years they’ve been working in the industry. At The Harvey Group, we offer more than 30 years of professional experience in the financial industry.

2. Do You Hold Any Credentials?

At The Harvey Group, we take credentials seriously, and we think you should too. Credentials and education play a critical role in your advisor’s competence. There are hundreds of designations in the financial services field and some are more applicable to your needs than others. (2) Our advisory team has achieved designations including Investment Advisor Representative, Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and more. Use DesignationCheck.com to learn more about the credentials financial advisors can earn.

3. What Financial Planning Services Do You Offer?

Not all financial advisors can provide comprehensive financial planning. Some cannot sell insurance or securities, such as mutual funds or stocks, if they don’t have the appropriate licenses. Ask a financial advisor what services they provide and whether or not they have a specialty. At The Harvey Group, our comprehensive planning process includes accumulation, risk management, and taxation strategies, as well as business, retirement, and estate planning. Our goal is to simplify the complexities of your financial life by focusing on managing your wealth in a systematic way for the long term.

4. What is Your Planning Philosophy?

It’s important to work with an advisor who shares a similar planning and investing philosophy as you. If you’re nearing retirement, you may not want to work with an aggressive stockbroker, whereas if you’re new to investing, you may not want to be too conservative. Talk with an advisor about how he or she guides clients’ investing and financial decisions. At The Harvey Group, our goal is to design an investment portfolio that addresses an individual’s investment needs, asset allocation, and the suitability of different types of securities based on your goals and risk tolerance.

5. Who Do You Serve?

Some financial advisors specialize in serving a specific demographic or level of investable assets, so you’ll want to find this out before choosing an advisor. For example, if you’re a business owner, you may be better suited to work with an advisor specializing in helping business owners. While we work with a diverse range of clients, we specialize in serving middle and upper-middle-class families, many of whom are former government workers or have had jobs that dealt with the government. They seek a professional who can help them put their money to work and make informed decisions as they plan for the future and their many milestones, from sending a child to college to retiring. We have multiple generations in almost all of the families we serve, up to four generations in many families. We believe there are a few reasons families trust us with their wealth, including our service and reputation.

6. Who Else On Your Team Will Be Working With Me?

At some firms, you may work with multiple financial advisors depending on your appointment time or needs, while other firms may pair you up with one financial advisor with whom you’ll work one-on-one. This is important to know so you can meet the other team members with whom you might be collaborating. In keeping with our commitment to provide our clients with the highest level of financial assistance, The Harvey Group has created partnerships with other financial professionals who provide invaluable expertise beyond our proficiency. Financial planning involves tax planning, estate planning, and in many cases, Federal benefits planning.  And though we know much about these topics, each of them can become quite complicated.

Our clients appreciate that “we know what we don't know,” and for what we don't know, we will always provide professionals who do.

7. How Much Do You Charge?

Financial planning and investment costs can be confusing. And too often, financial advisors don’t readily disclose their fees. As fee-based advisors, our clients always know what they’re paying and what they’re receiving. We want our clients to feel comfortable with their strategies and confident that they are no hidden fees eating away at their hard-earned savings.

8. Do You Receive a Commission?

Some financial advisors working with big banks earn their income on commissions. The problem with this is that advisors working on commission may be inclined to sell products that aren’t best suited to a client’s needs. As fee-based independent financial advisors, we charge a percentage of your assets under our management. The better your investments perform, the more we earn. Avoiding conflicts of interest, we instead focus on what we believe will best meet your goals and needs.

9. Are You a Fiduciary?

An advisor who serves as a fiduciary accepts a responsibility to put his client’s interests first and foremost in all decisions. A fiduciary is supposed to avoid conflicts of interest and remain unbiased in her recommendations and advice.

10. Have You Ever Violated Any Standards or Laws?

It’s a good idea to research an advisor’s credentials and run a background check with regulatory agencies. Some advisors may have been subjected to disciplinary action if they violated any laws or if a client took action against them. You can look up an advisor’s professional history by visiting FINRA’s BrokerCheck. This database will also show you the years of experience an advisor has and the licenses and credentials he or she has.

Take your time and trust your intuition when selecting your advisor. The relationship should feel right and you should never feel pressured to make a decision quickly. An advisor should be happy to answer these questions and any others you may have about how they operate.

At The Harvey Group, we believe in complete transparency and want our clients to feel comfortable working with us and asking any questions they may have. If you’d like to learn more about our answers to these questions or any others you may have, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Book an appointment with us to learn more about how we work and how we can help you with your finances.

About Steve

Steve Harvey is a financial advisor with more than 34 years of industry experience. He is also the founder of The Harvey Group, an independent investment consulting firm based in Alexandria, Virginia. He works closely with middle and upper middle-class families to help them address their critical financial planning challenges, from investing with confidence to planning for retirement. Based in the Washington DC area, he works with clients throughout Virginia and Maryland. Learn more by connecting with Steve on LinkedIn or visiting www.steveharveyllc.com.

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(1) https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes132052.htm

(2) http://www.designationcheck.com/credentials-explained