5 Facts for Finding the Right Financial Advisor

March 31, 2015

Connect Member

Portfolio manager and founder of CAIM, an independent, women owned investment management firm.


Does your current financial advisor treat you like a number? Do you feel like you can’t trust your advisor to work with your best interests in mind?

According to business strategy advisors The Boston Consulting Group, more than 70 percent of women are dissatisfied with both the product offering and service level they receive from their financial advisor. Given the significant amount of wealth control that women have, these statistics are staggering.

For many women with limited experience in personal investing or financial planning, a professional advisor is a key gatekeeper to the market who can provide education, confirmation of past decisions, and emotional support during life changes. When a woman is considering a financial advisor, she may ask herself not only “Do I like her?” but also “Is she like me?”  She may seek someone who is knowledgeable and qualified, but not overly formal; experienced, but relatable. In today’s service economy, people want personalized and customized services across the board — from the coffee shop to the travel agency — and especially in an area as intimate and impactful as personal finances.

Women should work with a financial professional who understands them, and one who will take the time and effort to also teach them about the implemented investment strategy for their own portfolio. When it comes to investment advice, women want to engage. Because women are particularly attuned to issues of trust and loyalty, they place high value on their relationship with the person who advises them about their finances. Oftentimes, if women understand the risk profile of an investment and trust their advisor, they are willing to accept that certain level of risk in their portfolio.

Here’s a foolproof system to help you find the right investment professional for you. It’s all about getting the FACTS.

1. Fees, Facts, and Flexibility
If you were buying a car, you’d get prices from several dealers before making a decision. Do the same with your investment professional and be careful about hidden fees!

Get the facts about the person you are working with: their experience, education, and values. It takes a good seven years of experience with investments before someone can consider themselves a seasoned investment professional.

Ask about their flexibility in handling your portfolio. You want someone who can adapt to life’s changes, without having to sell your entire portfolio and repurchase new investments. This could be very costly.

2. Accessibility
If you need to take money out of your account, how soon you can get it?  It’s important to know if your money will be “locked up” for a period of time and if there are exit fees.

3. Communication
Get to know the people you will be working with. Ask them how long they’ve been in the business and how many clients they service. Ask yourself if you enjoy talking with them and if they listen to you! Many investment professionals hand off the actual investment decisions regarding your money to a third party, like a mutual fund or affiliated money manager. It’s vital that you know how your needs will be communicated to these people. Ask if you can meet the person making your portfolio decisions and how your advisor stays in touch with how your money is being managed. Establish how you’ll be communicating, whether it’s via email or phone, and how often.

4. Transparency
Understanding your portfolio helps you stay connected to your investments and makes them a more important part of your life. Ask your investment professional to discuss the individual holdings with you.

5. Simplicity
Do you understand what you are investing in? If not, it either needs to be explained to you in a manner that makes you feel comfortable or you need to find another solution. One of the keys to financial success is having an investment plan that allows you peace of mind.

When you apply these FACTS to selecting an investment professional, you’ll feel more secure about your investments. When clients are secure, they are ultimately successful!

Catherine Avery is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.