Ten Questions To Ask Your Financial Advisor

Published by Mark Ring, Wealth Advisor

Do you ever feel overwhelmed when trying to choose a doctor, a contractor, or a company to do business with? With so many choices, how do you know which one will be the right fit for your situation or personality? How do you know if you’ll like them or work well with them?

When it comes to choosing a financial advisor, the stakes are even higher. The financial professional you pick to handle your family’s wealth will have a significant impact on your investment strategy, the fees you pay, and your confidence in your financial future. This is not a decision to take lightly, especially since each advisor has a different level of service, expertise, and ability. Taking all of these factors into consideration, it is vital that you take your time to find an advisor that meets your needs and makes you feel at ease. So, when you start your advisor search, ask potential candidates the following 10 questions.

1. How Much Experience Do You Have?

Experience is essential when you’re working with a professional of any kind, especially someone handling your finances. Don’t be shy about asking an advisor about their industry experience. It will give you assurance to know what market conditions they’ve experienced and how many years they’ve been working in the industry. At Jacob William Advisory, our team that serves you is knowledgeable and boasts many accolades from Forbes, Barron’s, Financial Times, and WealthManagement.com that rank us among the top in the nation. Our team is made up of a variety of professionals with diverse backgrounds and extensive experience and qualifications.

2. Do You Hold Any Credentials?

We take credentials seriously, and we think you should too. Credentials and education play a critical role in your advisor’s competence. There are hundreds of designations in the financial services field, and some are more applicable to your needs than others. (1) Our advisory team has achieved many designations, including Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Chartered Advisor for Senior Living (CASL), and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC). Use DesignationCheck.com to learn more about the credentials financial advisors can earn, and ask the advisors you are researching what they do to continually hone their skills and stay up to date in the industry.

3. What Financial Planning Services Do You Offer?

Not all financial advisors can provide comprehensive financial planning. Some cannot sell insurance or securities, such as mutual funds or stocks, if they don’t have the appropriate licenses. Ask a financial advisor what services they provide, whether or not they have a specialty, and if they offer a broad spectrum of solutions to meet your needs. When creating a plan together, be sure to ask your advisor why they are recommending particular services and solutions over others. At Jacob William Advisory, we offer comprehensive wealth management services designed to manage and coordinate the many complex financial matters successful people face, including portfolio management, financial planning, risk management, estate planning, and tax planning. Our goal is to take care of your wealth so you can focus on what truly matters to you.

4. What Is Your Planning Philosophy?

It’s important to work with an advisor who shares a planning and investing philosophy similar to your own. If you’re nearing retirement, you may not want to work with an aggressive stockbroker, whereas if you’re new to investing, you may not want to be too conservative. Talk with an advisor about how he or she guides clients’ investing and financial decisions. We use our “Wealth Designed, Life Defined” process, which uncovers your goals and needs and implements a customized strategy to help you achieve your version of True Wealth. We are wholly dedicated to helping you reach a higher purpose for your wealth and design a lasting legacy for your family.

5. Who Do You Serve?

Some financial advisors specialize in serving a specific demographic or level of investable assets, so you’ll want to find this out before choosing an advisor. For example, if you’re a business owner, you may be better suited to work with an advisor specializing in helping business owners. At Jacob William Advisory, we serve a diverse range of clients and specialize in working with pre-retirees, professionals, and educators.

6. Who Else On Your Team Will Be Working With Me?

At some firms, you may work with multiple financial advisors depending on your appointment time or needs, while other firms may pair you up with one financial advisor with whom you’ll work one-on-one. This is important to know so you can meet the other team members with whom you might be collaborating. At Jacob William Advisory, you have an entire team behind you. Our team collaborates and our variety of professionals are available to help you with all your financial needs, including tax and estate planning.

7. How Much Do You Charge?

Financial planning and investment costs can be confusing. And too often, financial advisors don’t readily disclose their fees. We believe it’s important for our clients to know our costs up front and how we get paid. Our fees are fully disclosed and discussed during our one-on-one meetings with you. We want our clients to know what they’re paying and what they’re receiving. We want you to feel comfortable with our strategies and confident that there are no hidden fees eating away at your hard-earned savings.

8. Do You Receive a Commission?

Some financial advisors working with big banks earn their income on commissions. The problem with this is that advisors working on commission may be inclined to sell products that aren’t best suited for a client’s needs. As a fee-based independent financial firm, we charge a percentage of your assets under our management. The better your investments perform, the more we earn. Avoiding conflicts of interest, we instead focus on what we believe will best meet your goals and needs.

9. Are You A Fiduciary?

An advisor who serves as a fiduciary accepts a responsibility to put their clients’ interests first and foremost in all decisions. A fiduciary is supposed to avoid conflicts of interest and remain unbiased when giving recommendations and advice. As independent advisors, we agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, and as fiduciaries, we believe in transparency and putting the client first.

10. Have You Ever Violated Any Standards Or Laws?

It’s a good idea to research an advisor’s credentials and run a background check with regulatory agencies. Some advisors may have been subjected to disciplinary action if they violated any laws or if a client took action against them. You can look up an advisor’s professional history by visiting FINRA’s BrokerCheck or the SEC Advisor Disclosure website. These databases will also show you the years of experience an advisor has and the licenses and credentials he or she has.

Take Your Time And Trust Your Intuition

When selecting your advisor, the relationship should feel right and you should never feel pressured to make a decision quickly. An advisor should be happy to answer these questions and any others you may have about how they operate. If you don’t know where to start, ask friends and family for referrals to set you down the right path.

At Jacob William Advisory, we believe in complete transparency and want our clients to feel comfortable working with us and asking us questions. If you’d like to learn more about our answers to these questions or any others you may have, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a complimentary consultation. To get started, contact our office by calling 410-821-6724 or emailing [email protected]. You can also take our Risk Tolerance Questionnaire at https://client.jacobwilliam.com/survey/.

About Mark

Mark Ring is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Jacob William Advisory, a wealth management firm whose sole mission is to service their clients’ needs beyond their expectations. Mark has over 30 years of industry experience and for the past decade, he has been committed to building Jacob William Advisory into one of the foremost wealth advisory firms. Mark graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and spends his time outside of the office with his wife, Nancy, and his two wonderful children. He gives his time to numerous nonprofit organizations related to education and the arts, often serving as a board member. He enjoys playing tennis, golf, bicycling, cooking, and traveling. Learn more about Mark by connecting with him on LinkedIn.

For a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor.


(1) https://www.designationcheck.com/credentials-explained

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