So I've been plagued lately with the thought of financial professionals preying on and taking advantage of people that don't have the financial acumen and experience that they do. I hear stories daily from the news to the water cooler about how people who didn't know any better and were totally trusting were taken advantage of. Being a financial adviser myself it puts a dark cloud over my industry.
But believe it or not there are professionals out there who are out for the best interest of their clients. To me there is no greater feeling in the world (professionally) than helping a client meet their financial goals. The look of relief and peace is unlike any other feeling and it's what keeps me doing this.
So what are some characteristics that you need to look for to ensure that the adviser you hire has your best interest at heart?
1. Humility - If you have a hard-selling fast-talker who you know is just waiting for you to stop speaking so that they can start run the other way!! The most successful advisers are listeners. They listen intently to your situation and goals so that they can help craft a plan and strategy to help YOU meet YOUR goals.
2. Integrity - This should go without saying in any industry, but especially the financial industry. When someone is managing your money you have to be absolutely sure that they are trustworthy and when the pressure is on they will be willing to have the hard discussion. If your adviser is not willing to have the hard conversation with you when they know it may make them look bad it may be time to look for another adviser.
3. Passion - When you speak to your adviser are they passionate about what they are doing? Or do they seem like this is just a business to pay the bills. This is one that you should know right off of the bat when talking to your adviser. And when I say passionate about the business I'm not implying that they should spend the whole conversation bragging about themselves and everything they've accomplished. I'm saying that they should be overflowing with positivity about how they help people and how they love creating strategies...etc.
4. Wisdom - It should evident that the adviser has wisdom. If they are closed-minded and use only 1 or 2 products for every client or if they aren't fully versed on macro to micro economics that would give them a full understanding of investments and approaches then I would say beware. You want someone that has spent the time and effort to educate themselves and understand their craft if they are going to handle your money.
5. Vulnerability - We can't be all things to all people as advisers. Some specialize in certain areas, such as tax loss harvesting or estate planning. If you are with an adviser and they aren't willing to admit that they aren't a master of everything then this may be a warning flag. You want to make sure that they specialize in what you're looking to do or you may get a mediocre or bad experience. The old adage jack of all trades and master of none is not an attractive approach to being a financial adviser. Along with this one is bad-mouthing the competition. In any area, but especially business, be ware of anyone willing to bad mouth competition. It shows a lack of confidence and self-esteem.
Obviously, this isn't a comprehensive list and is solely my opinion but I sincerely hope that this may help someone be able to at least be conscious of these characteristics when interviewing financial advisers.