Choose Your Financial Advisor or Planner Carefully

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It is important to plan your investing and get advice when doing so. There are potential drawbacks to this though.

Financial advisors (these may be financial planners in the US), who may be independent or work for a particular company, technically give “financial advice.”

The problem with most financial advisors is they aren’t really financial advisors – they are salespeople and they make their money from selling investments, either directly as an independent, or indirectly if they work for a company.

Although in the UK there are regulations that state that an investment must be sold based on its value as an investment, and not simply for the commission received, they are not infallible.

If you are picking an advisor with the intent of using their advice, there are certain questions, or types and variations of them, that you really need answering. This can be important decision, so you need to conduct an interview to choose the right person.

“What percentage of your income comes from your investment portfolio?”

The advisor may be reluctant to answer this directly, hence the reason why a percentage number is asked. You really want an advisor who makes a good proportion of their income from their investments. A follow up question would be asking whether this percentage is growing. Low, stagnant, declining or zero percentages show the advisor is most likely just a salesperson and not terribly competent at financial advice.

“What percentage of your assets are in your investment portfolio?”

Most people will include their house, even though it isn’t rally an asset, in this figure. An advisor who has an investment portfolio which is a significant proportion of their net worth – preferably, many times the equity in their home – is best. Again, this can be followed up by asking about the behaviour of this percentage.

Any advisor who refuses to disclose this, even in approximations, after you explain why you need to know this should probably be avoided. They aren’t investors. A competent advisor should also not be insulted by the desire of a potential customer to find out just how good they are at their job.

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