Disappointment occurs when you expect one thing and get something else. Disappointment in the service we receive from businesses occurs all too frequently these days. So, what should you expect from your financial advisor?
Here are the basics:
- Your advisor should be available to respond promptly to your inquiries-usually right away, but certainly within a couple of hours. Occasionally, providing high-quality answers to your questions may take some research and additional time, but you should be given a specific time by which you will have answers.
- You should receive simple, direct, and understandable answers to your questions. Sometimes, it’s challenging for BWFA’s advisors to reduce complex information to simple terms that promote good understanding, but that’s our job.
- You should have confidence in the advice you are given. There are many reasons why you might not have confidence in what you’re told: you don’t feel like the advisor understands your concern; the answers don’t make sense to you; you feel like there may be a better solution to your situation, and so on. But in the end, you need to be confident that the advice is correct and appropriate for your circumstances.
- You should have the “right” amount of communication from your advisor. The right amount of communication differs for each individual. Some clients want to hear from us often, while others want virtually no contact. Some clients like advisors to proactively call them or send e-mail, while others prefer to call the advisor when they have a question. Every firm and every advisor struggles with trying to find that sweet spot between too little and too much contact. This is very difficult to achieve. As a simple rule, you should hear from your advisor at least quarterly (and perhaps more often in difficult times).
Beyond the Basics
Beyond the basics, your relationship with your advisor is harder to quantify. It’s more subtle than getting a response to your questions and getting regular e-mail updates. Yet, these other aspects are the source of a genuine, long-term working relationship that will separate an average experience from a superior experience.
- Look for courage and humility in your advisor, not arrogance and fear. We sometimes have to look closely to distinguish between these characteristics. It is impossible to invest the hard-earned life savings of clients carefully and wisely in the face of extreme uncertainty without a lot of courage…and a healthy dose of humility. Arrogance and a lack of humility might lead an advisor to invest without the proper amount of care and thought. Fear, exhibited by statements like, “I’m afraid of this market right now,” is a veiled admission of inexperience that leads to overreaction to events and mistakes. Is your advisor courageous and humble?
- Expect your advisor to help you achieve your goals, not those that he or she chooses for you. Advisors are generally expert at evaluating money matters, and they can usually lead clients to the best financial decision. However, because they are experts about money, they have a tendency (and clients have a tendency to let them) substitute their goals for yours. Does your advisor regularly ask you about your goals?
- Expect your advisor to seek help from other experts, when needed. No one is expert at everything. Your advisor should have a network of experts to whom he or she can turn for detailed knowledge of specific situations that are outside of his field, or which require highly technical knowledge. Your advisor should be willing to get “second opinions” on important matters from his network. Just as importantly, your advisor should work cooperatively with other professionals who you already work with and trust.
Clients are entitled to get the very best from their advisors. Make sure you are satisfied on each of these points, and speak to your advisor if you are not.