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For those looking into a financial advisor for the first time, it can be intimidating and unsettling to think about how much you’re paying this new member of your community to support your financial goals.  It can even feel counterintuitive to spend money to be told how to save and invest your money.  It’s pivotal to remember that an excellent financial expert not only understands what is happening in the market but how that specifically affects you and your personalized financial needs.  It’s imperative to remember that your financial advisor works for you.  When employing a service, sometimes, individuals are too timid or uncomfortable with ensuring the service they are receiving is done to the buyer’s standard.  Often this comes from discomfort in knowing what to expect from a financial advisor.  A financial advisor’s work is relatively standard across the board, so you can level-set your expectations for what work your financial officer should be doing.


While generally, it’s obvious what a financial advisor does (advises you on your finances), the job’s specifics are a little more nuanced.  You can certainly expect the following from any financial advisor:


  • Advisors use knowledge to construct personalized plans to meet the aims of the client.
  • Touch base with clients regularly to re-evaluate their current situation and future goals.
  • Responsible for executing trades in the market on clients behalf–but not limited to this
  • Also, plan for: savings, budgeting, insurance, and tax plans.


This essential list should vary on specifics based on your individual needs.  If you are 45 and want to retire in 20 years and plan for a child to go to college, your financial needs and goals will be indebted to those ideas if you’re 28 and just looking to invest aggressively at a young age. Your goals differ from the purposes stated above.  You should be working alongside your advisor to determine the amount of money you should be saving, spending, and investing.


You should also expect your financial advisor to be an educator.  The service your paying for is not a passive one–you should remain actively engaged with all decisions your advisor is making.  Further, your should expect your advisor to explain why they are making their choices and all the potential impacts and implications of their decisions.  Start by asking about budgeting and saving, then build out your knowledge with more complex matters like insurance and taxes.


Financial advisors should also have you take a financial health questionnaire.  They need to do their due diligence on you as a client, which is the most robust way to assess your risk tolerance.  Your willingness to engage with risk will inform anything your advisor does, so make sure you tell your advisor what kind of trouble you’re comfortable exploring.  You get to determine how risky you want to be, and no one else should dictate that decision.  


You should expect your finances to digest all this information and use it to exercise a financial plan.  The comprehensive financial plan will be a long-term map for your future.  Be sure to peek at the analysis section of this document when you receive it. The analysis section will provide all the info you need on your estate planning, family situation, long-term care risk, risk tolerance–amongst other future financial issues.