When people seek financial advice or begin to search for a new financial advisor, it is usually because there has been a transition in their life, and they need help—retirement, the death of a family member, a divorce, or a career or lifestyle change. But there may be a host of other changes that initiate the search for advice. These transitions also come with a wide range of emotions and reactions—from anticipation and celebration, to dread, anxiety, grief, or even paralyzing fear. During these times, the decisions made, and paths chosen, can impact a family’s financial legacy for years to come.
If you are currently in one of these transitions, before you decide to work with a financial advisor, you need someone to help you see more clearly, or cut through the noise. You need someone who can help you know, with confidence, what to seek and how to recognize it when you find it. In most cases, people ask friends, family members, or other trusted advisors for recommendations before beginning their search.
Through decades of industry experience and countless engagements with new clients who are working with an advisor for the first time, we’ve established a core belief in our own practice:
A financial advisor should primarily be, throughout all stages of your engagement, your Financial Advocate.
By definition, an advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. Advocating for another person means to plead their case, for their benefit, or on their behalf. This book is written in the spirit of advocating for individuals and families seeking financial advice and assistance with their financial goals, dreams, and needs.
The financial advisor or team you choose can impact your financial well-being for years to come, and there is a lot that should go into that decision.
The financial industry has evolved and continues to change to a level of complexity that makes even the most basic products and services offered hard to understand. We live in the age of information with infinite choices and access to more knowledge and research than we could ever consume. These innovations are mostly positive and can benefit consumers looking for financial advice. Unfortunately, this also creates confusion, uncertainty, and anxiety during a transitionary time in your life that already has its challenges.
The reason for this book is simple:
To help you understand the basics of the retail financial services industry and confidently hire a wealth management team that best suits the current and future needs of your family.
This book is not meant for financial professionals, nor is it for the experts. It is written for regular people who are working toward their own financial goals and seeking help. We will explore the various arrangements you may have with financial advisors, highlight questions you need to ask, and guide you to resources to do your own research. It is our intent that by spending approximately one hour with this guide, you will have the knowledge and understanding to confidently make decisions on how you choose to manage your retirement, wealth, and legacy.
We are committed to changing what people expect from their financial advisor.
The choices for hiring an advisor are wide-ranging and varied in scale of services, products, licensing, specialized training, and overall professionalism. People often believe (not by their own fault) that the greatest value advisors can provide is a “unique” financial-planning process or their ability to “beat the market.” They have also come to expect a low bar of service, little communication, and reactionary advice.
You should expect more from your financial advisor, and your financial advisor should be giving that to you. You shouldn’t have to settle for a reactionary, transactional, product-focused experience when your financial future is at stake, and you truly need advice. It is clear why so many try to do it themselves or seek out the cheapest option possible.
Often, advisors don’t provide the value clients expect.
Financial advisory practices should offer a polished, thoughtfully designed, and professional service, just like other trusted professionals you work with. Compare the clinical engagement you have with your physician, the proactive semiannual treatments at the dentist, or even a white-glove, customer-service experience at an upscale restaurant or hotel. These businesses use policy, procedure, planned services, and, most importantly, they show you that you are important and that they care.
We have strategically built our team over three decades to serve the complex needs that investors face today. Our team evolved from a small group of solo practitioners into a multigenerational team of accredited specialists working collaboratively with all our clients. Team members are given clear roles and responsibilities, while processes are implemented to ensure the needs of each client are met. This includes structure around investment management, financial planning, education, ongoing communication, and service. Every part of our engagement with clients, both front- and backstage, is planned, tracked, and repeatable. This consistency in the services we deliver increases confidence, reduces anxiety, and ultimately results in more successful and satisfied clients.
This methodical, planned, yet personal approach to ongoing wealth management means that our clients can anticipate when they will interact with our team both in formal reviews and less formal events. This should be your minimum expectation of the advisor you hire. We want to make that expectation status quo, and this book is about that change.
Whether this is the first time you have been through the hiring process, or you are seeking a new advisor relationship, we want you to have clarity in the options you have, understand what you need to consider, and feel confident in the decision you make.
Thank you for the opportunity to be your Financial Advocate!