financial advisor
Financial Advisor, Financial Services, Investing, Personal Finance, Retirement

The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Financial Advisor

Making long-term decisions about money can be difficult and even a little scary. But with the help of a financial advisor it doesn’t have to be. Many people turn to financial advisors for help with their financial decisions. Getting educated about your retirement and wealth-management options is a necessary part of planning your financial future. Advisors offer good financial advice but deciding whether they’re worth the price can be difficult. Before deciding to consult with an advisor make sure you are aware of the pros and cons, whether you’re looking for advice on paying off debt or investing your extra income.

What is a Financial Advisor?

Financial advisors are certified professionals who help their clients tackle some of the tough questions of personal finance. They can put together a retirement savings plan with a timeline or answer any questions you may have about life insurance. A Certified Financial Planner is often not only knowledgeable about investment accounts, but other things that could impact your finances, from taxes to insurance. A few of the things that a CFP can handle for you are: meet with you to assess your current financial situation and goals; develop a comprehensive plan that addresses major areas of concern, such as retirement, college planning, insurance, avoiding estate tax, and so on; coach you as difficult financial issues appear in your life; and help you avoid major mistakes that will derail your plans.

Risks of Self-Managing

When thinking about the need of a financial advisor, think about all that you must handle on your own when it comes to your finances. You will need to compare Roth IRA providers and fill out the necessary information to open a Roth IRA. Now that you have opened the account you need to stay on top of a wide range of information such as: changes in legislation that could affect your retirement planning; changes in mutual fund options at your brokerage firm; and changes in the amount of money you can contribute each year to a retirement account. You will also need to develop a long-term financial plan that includes considerations for retirement, paying off your house, funding the kids’ college education, estate planning and a timeline for when you retire. This is something that can be done, but to get it done right you’ll need to invest a lot of your time. It’s up to you to decide if self-managing is convenient for you.

The Help of a Financial Advisor

If you’re ever feeling confused, stressed or simply ignorant of various money-management topics, then professional advice from an advisor can be very handy. Most people can’t see far enough into the future to see retirement, much less plan for it. A financial advisor will ask you all the needed questions to put together a plan and offer you advice on investments, estate planning, tax liability and your kids’ college education. The financial knowledge of an advisor will make your difficult decisions easier.

How a Financial Advisor Can Hurt

Finding a great advisor can be just as easy as finding an incompetent one that can cost you a lot of money. A few of the many ways a financial advisor can cost you your money is by churning your investments; expensive investments; bad planning; and not responding. They can get you to buy and sell more than necessary in order to generate higher commissions for themselves. Point you to mutual funds with high expense ratios when a similar low-cost index fund or an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) would be a better choice. A well-intentioned advisor who puts together a sketchy or holes-ridden financial plan is not helping you at all. Even an unbiased advisor is useless if he or she never returns your calls/emails or is MIA when your need arises.

You Should Always Get a Fiduciary

When hiring a financial advisor, you need to make sure they have a fiduciary duty to you. This means your advisor must put your needs above his/her own and always act in your best interest, offering you an unbiased view and opinion. In financial planning this guarantees that he cannot steer you toward investments that are expensive for you, just because their profitable for him/her.

How Much is the Cost of a Financial Advisor?

 Going to a financial advisor will cost you money. Some charge by the hour and some makes commissions from the investment products you buy. Others may do both. Most fee-only investment advisors charge a fee equal to a percentage of your invested assets. An unofficial industry benchmark is one percent, although advisors may charge slightly more or less. Some financial advisors earn their fees not from clients, but from banks and investment companies.

If you’re wondering if you need a financial advisor or if you should do it yourself, consider whether DIY investing is a realistic option. What changed so you now feel you can devote more time and energy to your investments than you have before? Do-it-yourself can easily turn into no-one-does-it. We all have a home project or two to prove it. So if your to-do list is endless and you never quite have time to tackle your personal finances, you might need a financial advisor.

Financial Advisor, Financial Services, Personal Finance, Retirement

When It Makes Sense to Hire a Financial Advisor

time is money

By now, many of us have seen the TD Ameritrade commercials with the bearded bespectacled financial advisor questioning his client about her plans and where she’d like to be when she retires. The client usually throws in some unexpected adventure or bucket list idea that has been in the back of her mind for a few years that nobody would guess just by looking at her. What many people need to consider before getting to this point, however, is whether their situation warrants hiring an advisor. In other words, before you wind up sitting on a couch speaking about running with the bulls someday, you should know when it’s worthwhile to seek the help of a financial professional.

My Finances Aren’t That Complicated

Understandably, many people have reservations about hiring someone to manage their money. Usually, they think that their finances aren’t complicated enough to justify outside help. While this is true for many people, it is certainly not always the case. Even a seemingly simple financial situation may be missing out on numerous opportunities to grow wealth and protect one’s assets.

For example, a widow in her late sixties with a sizable estate left to her by her husband may think that she should just continue with her husband’s financial choices because they yielded a pretty good return up to this point. However, life changes usually bring up an entirely new set of questions. Is she still paying for kids’ college educations? What kind of income does she need now to continue to live comfortably in retirement? Did her husband own a number of stocks which could be sold to offset other capital gains? Did he keep a large amount of cash in savings accounts earning very little, if anything? These are just some of the questions a person in her situation may need to consider.

The Big Picture

Have you ever heard someone talk about how they couldn’t see things clearly because they were too involved in the situation? Personal finances often fall along the same lines. Many people are uncomfortable talking or even thinking concretely about their own financial situations. One of the great benefits of a financial advisor is that he can see the big picture more clearly because he is outside the situation.

Since an advisor is not emotionally connected, he can look at your entire financial situation and figure out what challenges must be met in order to achieve your goals. For instance, he might notice when the interest on a car loan is greater than the interest you are getting on your savings account. In this case, he might advise you to pay off the loan with your savings, so you can start building capital right away without losing money by servicing long-term debt at higher interest rates than your savings account accrues.

Is an Advisor Worth the Fee?

This is one of the main questions people have when considering financial assistance nowadays, and I have to say it’s a valid concern. While there are different types of compensation models, many advisors charge a percentage of the assets under management. This fee usually ranges from 1% to 1.5% per year. Clearly, your advisor needs to add value over and above his fee to make his services worthwhile. After all, Warren Buffett has made no secret of how much fees matter to your bottom line and how you should keep your investing costs as low as possible.

The Financial Upside

The good news is that a Vanguard Alpha study recently uncovered that using a financial advisor may add as much as a 3% net gain over time to a portfolio. In other words, after paying their fees, the client winds up with 3% more than they would have had without using an advisor. This percentage may not sound like much but a 10% gain vs. a 7% gain in your annual return can result in a huge difference to your portfolio. While not everyone will see those exact gains, even a 2% gain can result in a healthy additional return over time.

In the End, It’s Personal

People often need help when changing jobs and moving retirement accounts, assessing long-term care insurance, or even deciding whether it makes sense to lease or buy your next car. These are just a few of the situations for which people are often not prepared or simply cannot deal with at the time. A skilled financial advisor, however, can look at your investment options objectively in order to plan for your future. Ultimately, the decision to hire a financial professional remains a personal one. You have to be honest about what your needs and your goals are at this point in your life, and whether the assistance an advisor provides is necessary to reaching those financial goals.