Choosing the Right Financial Advisor Can Make or Break Your Retirement Goals

March 21, 2013

Choosing the Right Financial Advisor Can Make or Break Your Retirement Goals

While many investors may not realize it, choosing the right financial advisor could quite possibly be the most important decision you ever make. Yet, there are some who will spend more time planning and researching a yearly vacation or automobile purchase than in analyzing the person who will be the driver of their retirement savings plan. Some compare the process of picking a financial professional with that of hiring a key employee for a business - because the individual that is chosen will essentially be tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that assets continue to grow and that losses are minimized. The advisor that you ultimately choose will play a big role in how - or if - your financial goals are achieved so that you can live the retirement lifestyle that you've dreamed of. With this in mind, there are several criteria that you should consider before turning your nest egg over. grandparents BW Determine Your Goals Although most people dream of enjoying a relaxing retirement, doing so requires that you first determine specific goals that you would like to achieve. This includes having a good idea of what your future expenses will be, where you would like to live, and what activities you intend to participate in such as travel or hobbies. In coming up with an approximate expense figure, you can then "back in" to how much you will need in savings at a particular time in the future. Seek Out Compatible Professionals Once you have an idea of your investment goals, you should start researching financial professionals that may best fit with your specific financial needs, as well as with your risk tolerance and style. Remember, you are choosing your advisor for a long-term relationship and with the intent of achieving very specific goals. Therefore, simply looking through ads or moving money to your best friend's cousin won't do. Interview the Candidates Once you have determined your short list of potential candidates, you should interview each one in order to determine whether or not they would be a good fit. While doing so over the phone can help you to get answers, oftentimes making a personal visit to the advisor's office will give you a better feel as to how he or she runs their business. Some important questions that should be asked of the advisor should include:
  • What is your background and experience in financial services? When inquiring about the advisor's experience, you should ask him or her about the licenses that they hold, as well as any other qualifications such as industry designations. This will help you in sorting out the advisors who just view their position as a "job" and those who are career professionals.
  • What is your track record with other clients? There are several ways that a financial advisor's track record can be evaluated. Certainly, a key component is how other clients' portfolios have performed in relation to their goals. Another is whether or not the advisor has been involved in certain unethical or unlawful actions. In this instance, you can obtain information on any disciplinary actions from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's website if the advisor is registered with this entity.
  • How are you compensated? Knowing how an advisor gets paid is also an important factor. This is because there are several different types of compensation structures that are used in the financial industry. For example, advisors may be paid a flat fee for their services, they may be paid a commission based on the products that they sell to their clients, or their pay may constitute a combination of both.
  • Can we put it in writing? Once you have chosen an advisor to work with, the next step should be to get a written agreement that will outline the services they will provide you, as well as with the ways in which compensation will be paid for such services. Information in this document should also include details regarding the advisor's investment strategies and certain benchmarks for the performance of your portfolio.
Stay Involved in All Decisions Although you may find the perfect advisor and trust their judgment, it is imperative that you stay involved in all of the decisions regarding your portfolio. While your advisor will ultimately be the one transacting the purchase and sale of financial products, it is up to you to ensure that your advisor is working in your best interests.


Adri1 Adriana Hammond is a Financial Advisor with CONCERT Wealth Management in San Jose, California where she specializes in working with Canadian and Latin immigrants. She advises on issues of immigration as they relate to taxes, inheritances and retirement. As a Colombo-Canadian, she possesses a unique understanding of the international markets and is fluent in both written and spoken Spanish. CONCERT Wealth Management can be found at and

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