Broker Check

5 Questions to help you evaluate the quality of service you get from your financial advisor

No matter what the talking heads have to say about the markets or economy, you want to be sure you’re financially positioned to enjoy life and take care of the people you care about.

We know that volatile markets can and WILL happen as part of normal market cycles. How do you know there aren't any gaps in your plan? Do you understand how your investments are truly performing? Here are five questions to help you evaluate the quality of service you get from your financial advisor. 

Do you meet with your advisor regularly? What do you talk about?

Even if you have a personal relationship, a meeting with your advisor is more than just a chance to catch up. Regularly scheduled client reviews allow your advisor to evaluate how any life-changes, market activity, and regulatory changes could affect your financial plan. You should also discuss tax-reduction opportunities, review your tolerance for risk, identify potential gaps related to death, disability or damage to your assets, and assess your estate plan.

Does your advisor work with other professionals associated with your finances, such as your estate planning attorney, tax accountant, or insurance expert?

Coordinating the many areas of financial planning can be complex. Investments can affect your tax-reduction strategies, estate planning should coordinate with retirement planning, and inadequate risk management or insurance planning can jeopardize everything. Your advisor can collaborate with your other financial professionals to ensure all elements are working together in your best interest. They can even refer you to someone who works with clients who have similar levels of assets and concerns as you.

How – and how often – does your advisor monitor your investments?

Although investment management is only one piece of your financial plan, top advisors systematically evaluate portfolio construction, watching for red flags and performing stress tests to gauge performance in various market environments. This is especially important in today’s volatile and constantlychanging environment.

(The advisors at Cornerstone Financial Solutions review fund performance daily, weekly, and monthly to make real-time adjustments, helping to ensure we have a high level of  conviction around all of the funds in client portfolios.)

How does the technology your advisor offers benefit you?

You should be able to see how your portfolio is truly performing, drill into individual accounts and asset breakdowns, identify changes that could optimize your investments, consider how various scenarios and life events would impact your plan and portfolio, run reports about your financial picture, and see a living snapshot of your financial wellbeing. In addition, advisors may offer account aggregation software so you can see all of your accounts in one place, sophisticated social security analyzers to help you determine the most appropriate
claiming strategy, and programs that can evaluate your tax return to help you see how changes might affect your taxes.

Is your advisor a fiduciary?

Advisors who are fiduciaries on advisory accounts are bound by the legal and ethical standards of the Fiduciary Rule. The term financial planner is highly generic and can be used to describe many different types of professionals in the financial services field. Simply put, acting as a fiduciary on advisory accounts means a commitment to putting your interests ahead of everything.

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