Financial professionals can explain things clearly and simplify choices when it comes to competing issues in life, like saving for retirement versus saving for college. A professional can help you look at your finances in a unified, holistic way so you can achieve major milestones, such as starting a family, selling a business, planning for the future, and living a fulfilling life along the way. And studies show that having a balanced portfolio can lead to higher returns on your investments compared to working alone.1 When you’re looking for a financial professional who is a good fit, consider asking the following questions:
1. What range of solutions do you offer and how will we work together?
The financial services industry, which includes anything from banks to investment companies to insurance firms, represents one of the biggest sectors of the US economy – around $1.5 trillion annually.2 That makes for a lot of choices. Ask for specifics about how the financial professional will help you manage your money and investments and how those solutions will pertain to your life. Also consider asking your financial professional about how they do business. Do they start by going through all your finances? How often will you communicate? And what type of investing philosophy do they subscribe to?
2. Do I have the right protection?
If the unforeseen happens (illnesses, accidents, or worse) most people want to be sure that their family and loved ones would be financially protected. Ask your financial professional about your insurance coverage, including life insurance and disability insurance to help you and your family be prepared. Then discuss your investments and growth potential, including a discussion on the balance of both protection and investments.
3. Am I saving enough for the future, and in the smartest way?
There’s no single answer to this question – everyone’s goals are different. Your financial professional, though, should listen to you and show you what’s possible.
4. Can you make it easy for me to track my progress, even when some accounts aren’t connected to you?
Financial progress tends to happen gradually, especially at the beginning. Ask if your financial professional has a way to show you a live snapshot of everything going on in your life – from retirement savings to life insurance to savings accounts.
5. When people talk about “risks,” what do they mean?
Ask about the types of risks you may be taking on with certain products, how they could impact you – both positively and negatively – in the long term, and whether there are ways to guarantee more stability.
6. What happens if my income or the market has ups and downs?
Uncertainty about the possibility of illness or unemployment may be making you wary of committing to regular payments throughout life, e.g. a mortgage or a whole life insurance policy. Ask your financial professional to develop a plan to overcome potential stumbling blocks while reaching your key goals. When you’re reviewing your investments, be sure to discuss the potential for ups and downs in the market, and what the plan is to handle those downs
7. Does the company you work for have a good track record?
Feel free to ask about the past. Your financial institution’s history is important, as are their plans for the future.
8. How do we evaluate the plan?
Whether you have a big portfolio or are just starting out, economic factors and life can change. Ask how often he or she will be in touch every year to help make sure you’re on track.
The right guidance can contribute significantly to long-term prosperity. Pick a financial professional that you not only like and trust, but also one who shows enthusiasm and commitment to your success. He or she should be glad to answer all of the above questions.