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.