We all have expectations about how we should be treated by the people in our lives. We expect our kids to treat us with respect, we expect our significant others to treat us with love, and we expect our friends to treat us with kindness. Though this may not happen in every single situation, most of us find that the way we expect to be treated is most often the way we are treated.
This expectation should also translate to the professionals you partner with, including your financial advisor. How do you expect to be treated by your advisor? Do you expect they are busy and might put you on the back burner? Or that they’ll try to sell your products you don’t feel you really need? The truth is, you should expect your advisor to make you a priority because that is what an effective fiduciary does. But what does that really mean? Here’s how to know if your advice-based financial advisor is truly prioritizing you.
They Listen More Than Talk
Many of those in the financial industry feel the need to continually show how smart they are, how much they understand the market, and how they know the right decisions to make for you. Guess what? While they’re doing all this talking, they’re doing very little listening. Not only does this mean they aren’t making you a priority, but it also means that they’re probably not doing a good job of being a fiduciary in general. If your advisor is truly prioritizing you and your goals, he or she will spend much more time listening than talking. With intuitive questions and well thought-out replies, a good advisor will be able to help you discover much more about yourself and your investing behavior than one who is focused on showing you how much they know.
They Take the Time to Get to Know You
Does your financial advisor know you? I mean, really know you? To be a proper fiduciary and mentor, your advisor should be aware of your personality type, know if you have a tendency to be an emotional investor, and understand how to challenge you (in a good way). Much of this is based on the prior point of focusing on listening, but you also need to find an advisor who is invested in learning about the soft sciences and taking your relationship to a deeper level. Learning about you means they can better help you—which is a big part of making you a priority.
They Understand and Respect Your Risk Tolerance
An advisor who makes you a priority will understand your risk tolerance, where it comes from, and how to make adjustments accordingly. One who is just going through the motions or who tries to make money off you is more likely to take more risks than you’re comfortable with or that your situation warrants—not for your benefit, but for his or her own gain. This means the advisor needs to take the time to understand what your tolerance is and to help you adjust your views if he or she feels that your tolerance is not in line with your retirement goals.
They Respond Promptly to Calls or Emails
It doesn’t matter how busy your advisor is, he or she should always respond to your calls or emails promptly. Does that mean every single one of your calls will be answered on the first ring or that your emails will be returned within the hour? Probably not. But you should never sit around wondering if your advisor is out of town or has forgotten about you. If you feel you’re a lower priority than other clients based on your net worth, you definitely need to look into other options.
Is your financial advisor prioritizing you in a way that makes you feel valued and secure? If not, you may need to start the search for a true fiduciary who will put you first. If you’d like to talk about working with a fee-based advisor who is focused on the soft sciences, please reach out. I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.
Patrick Tucker, the owner of True Measure Wealth Management, has over 20 years experience in the industry and has spent the last 15 years learning the ins and outs of the fee-only advisory business. He focuses on client behaviors and what ‘wealth’ means for each individual client to provide caregiving plans that lead to a mindful fulfillment of financial goals. A lifelong learner, Patrick uses his continued knowledge to become a valued partner for his clients and help them explore the wisdom of true wealth.