Regardless of your age, income, or career, we all have a choice with regards to how we manage our finances. Whether you are 30 and just starting a family or 65 and counting the days until your retirement, we all have to carefully watch our finances to ensure we are where we want to be. But managing finances can be hard, and it is certainly not everyone's cup of tea - so in today's technology driven world, we search for advice. The down side - how do you know if the advice you are receiving is any good?
There are two ways for you to evaluate the financial advice you have been given - the Easy Way and the Hard Way. Check out this video for a short review of each.
The Easy Way
The easiest way to attain financial advice is to simply do a Google search, or talk with someone who believes what you believe. At that point, you accept what you are told as fact, and don't bother double checking or getting a second opinion. While this is certainly the easiest way, it isn't the best, and can lead you toward a harder time later in life.
Additionally, not all financial advisors are created equal. There are different certifications and specialties, and assuming one person is capable of doing it all without confirming their credentials can leave you vulnerable. There are some advisors who specialize in certain areas, such as taxes or estate planning. Some focus exclusively on retirement planning or younger families. Below is our advisor spectrum for helping you determine what type of advisor you should consider for your financial needs.
The Hard Way
As it states in the video above, the Hard Way of evaluating any financial advice you receive is to challenge the Reasoning, Assumptions, and Evidence given to you. Don't assume that what you have been told is truthful or accurate. Ask questions.
- What licenses, credentials, or certifications do you have?
- What services do you and/or your firm offer?
- What types of clients do you specialize in?
- Was the advice given to you because it could lead to a higher commission for the advisor?
- Are they only making that recommendation because it is what they are most familiar with or because it is truly best for you?
- Was the recommendation based on your financial goals or a general assumption?
- Are they a fiduciary who is required to work in the best interest of their client?
- Is you advisor assuming the age you want to retire or have you developed a plan?
- Are they assuming you are more risk averse or risk tolerant?
- Do they regularly review and update your financial plan or assume nothing has changed?
- What make them think the path they lay out is the best?
- What research or experience are they utilizing to back their recommendation?
- Have they laid out their recommendations into a sample financial plan?
- How do they justify their investment approach?
These are just some questions to get you thinking about your financial advisor. Whether you are looking to start working with one, or maybe looking to switch - it's important to put in the work ahead of time to make your life easier down the road.
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