Whether your financial professional is doing everything he or she can to help you pursue your goals isn’t always obvious by looking at the balance on your monthly statement.
In fact, in a recent Transamerica Community online poll, we asked members, “How can your financial professional improve?” Twenty-six percent of respondents wanted their financial professionals to demonstrate how they’re always working in your (their) best interests.
But how can you know what that looks like? Here’s our list of 5 ways to tell if your financial professional is acting as a fiduciary — someone dedicated to putting your interests first — and doing all they can for your portfolio.
From your initial meeting and all the follow up ones, savvy professionals should be asking questions to help them dig a little deeper and understand your individual situation. They shouldn’t be solely focused on how much money you have. They should ask what retirement looks like to you. They should be asking about everyday things such as your lifestyle, vacations, family, and — even more importantly — your health.
Why health? They aren’t being nosy according to Dr. Bill Lloyd, Transamerica’s Director of Health.
“Health issues go hand-in-hand with a person’s financial life,” Lloyd says. “The decisions people make with regards to their money are closely tied to their wellness choices. A smart financial professional would integrate wealth and health for a more holistic experience for their clients.”
2. They respect your assets regardless of size
If you think about it, the people who really need financial guidance are usually the ones who have the smallest portfolios. Whether your retirement account is $500 or $500,000, solid financial professionals should still be genuinely concerned with your objectives and willing to spend time discussing those objectives with you and show you and your money the respect they deserve.
3. They help solve your financial problems, not pitch products
You’re coming to your financial professional for guidance on how to reach your retirement goals. You don’t want to hear a sales pitch for an annuity, insurance, or some other type of financial product. If your professional does mention a specific product, it better be an integral piece to solving your individual financial situation. Lloyd agrees financial professionals should provide individual guidance, not sales pitches.
“Financial professionals who are only looking to meet a yearly sales goal will find that working against them,” he says. “The first thing any good financial professional should do is listen to what you have to say.”
4. They educate you
Financial professionals who are looking out for you will also want to be sure you understand your finances and feel empowered to make good financial decisions.
Whether it’s a simple office conversation or providing online tools, books, or other financial resources, hard-working financial professionals should be offering ways to help you make sense of the information you’re subject to on a daily basis. Most importantly, they should use easy to understand language, avoiding jargon or technical terms that are likely to intimidate or confuse.
5. They keep in touch
Reputable financial professionals know the key to building stronger relationships is frequent communication. They call, email, or text to ask how things are and if anything has changed since your last interaction.
Everyone has a different threshold on how often they’d like to hear from their financial professional. But hearing from your financial professional only once a year may not instill a lot of confidence.
Find someone invested in you
There are countless financial professionals who’d be happy to help you invest your money. But finding one who is fully invested in you and your portfolio is a taller order. Start with the tips mentioned above and keep the conversation going so your relationship and, hopefully, your money can both continue to grow over time.
Join the wealth + health discussion in our Community.
Things to Consider:
- Does your financial professional perform all of these tasks well?
- What would you like to see your financial professional do better?
- Maybe it’s time to review your goals with your financial professional if it’s been awhile since you last talked.