Written by Kat Bellucci
When it comes to making decisions about what to do with your money, how to invest it, what to invest it in, you can get dizzy, scared ……even nauseous! Asking good questions can help you make educated decisions and control your choices versus having someone else “guide” you into making decisions that may or may not be what you would have chosen yourself. One thing is for sure, you need to find a trusted advisor in the industry that you need guidance in. You should begin with reviews, referrals, established alliances to find a couple of advisors that you should interview. Once you have gathered a couple to choose from, schedule a “free consultation” and arm yourself with questions that will help you find the right advisor for your needs.
You will need more than one advisor.
A very smart speaker I worked with told our audience that everyone should have their own “board of directors”. What that simply means is that there is no one advisor who can help you with everything. You need a trusted CPA, Banker, Attorney (there are specialists in all different areas of need), a Life & Disability Insurance Specialist (to protect your family and estate), Property & Casualty Insurance Specialist (to help you with your home, auto, liability, etc.), a Retirement Specialist, and an Investment Advisor. Sounds overwhelming but in fact each advisor, in their respected area, should bring a wealth of experience specifically targeting that one area that impacts your overall financial health.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Always remember that there are no silly questions. If they are important to you, an advisor, that is right for you, should be happy to answer all your questions and provide details to until you are completely comfortable making decisions.
Choose an advisor who fits YOU.
Another important point you should remember, just like in life, there are relationships that are right for you and those that aren’t. Don’t ever be afraid to end a meeting when you know it is not a good fit. Don’t waste your time or the time of the advisor if it is not a good fit. It doesn’t mean the advisor is not a good one, just not a good fit.
Don’t make hasty decisions when choosing an advisor.
Remember, your money is a very important part of your life. You want to protect it, grow it and help it work as hard for you as you worked for it. Your relationship with your advisor should be a long term relationship. Take your time until you find the right one. Don’t rush into any decisions. If you needed to find a baby sitter, would you take the first one that came along or would you do your due diligence until you found the one that was right?
Take time to plan.
Lastly, planning for your financial future takes time, consistency, and commitment. Most people take more time planning a vacation then they do planning for their financial future. When choosing an advisor that is right for you, they should be willing to put the time and effort in with you and urge you to take the time to “work your plan”.
There are specific questions that should be used when interviewing all advisors but below is a list you can use when interviewing an Investment Advisor. I am sure you can add a few of your own. This should be used only as a guide.
1. What licenses does your firm hold and what companies do you represent?
a. How do your licenses affect what types of products you can offer me?
b. Are you a broker or an agent?
- Can you explain how this impacts what you can sell me?
c. What companies do you represent?
- Why do you represent these companies?
d. What are other companies that you don’t represent that offer the same
- Why don’t you represent these companies
2. How do you determine how much I should invest in different investment?
a. Is there a budget or formula that should be used?
3. How do you determine my risk tolerance?
4. Based on my risk tolerance, what are the investment options available to me?
a. Can you explain all the different investment options pros and cons to me
- ie: Stocks, Mutual Funds, Closed End Funds, ETF’s, Annuities, Insurance, Bonds, Private Placements, etc.
5. What is the difference between a qualified and non-qualified account?
6. What are my investment options with this product?
a. Is it guaranteed or non-guaranteed?
- Please explain the difference.
7. Are all the companies products the same?
a. If not, what are the differences between products?
8. What is the minimum investment required to an account?
9. Can I continue to make contributions towards it?
a. If so, how often (monthly, payroll deduction, annually, etc.)?
b. What are the options (ACH, check, etc.)?
c. For how many years can I continue to contribute?
10.Is there a number of years that this investment has to remain with this company?
a. Is there a surrender charge/period that I need to be aware of?
- If so, how does it impact my money?
- Can you show me in numbers what is would cost me?
b. How old do I have to be before I can access my money without any?
11.If I need to access my money, is there a penalty?
a. If so, what is it?
b. Do I have to pay it back?
c. What are the penalties/cost of accessing my money?
About Kat Bellucci
Host of Women’s Money Radio, Kat Bellucci is “Your Money Gal” and strives to empower women to embrace and nurture their financial health. Kat is now a Recess Guest Contributor and gave us all some great advice on how to save money and time over the holiday season.
RECESS and Your Money Gal invites you to listen to Women’s Money Radio at www.womensmoney.org/radio.