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How to choose a financial adviser

Charlie Wick and Tina DeWitt
Vail, CO, Colorado

If you’re like most people, you have a variety of financial goals: college for your children, a comfortable retirement, or a vacation home.

You might be able to achieve all these goals on your own – but you will likely find it a lot easier if you get a little help from a financial adviser.

How do you choose the right one? Ask your friends, relatives and co-workers who they use. Then interview some of the people they recommend.

Here are some questions:

What are your qualifications? Make sure you are talking to someone who, at a minimum, has all the required licenses for selling securities.

What type of experience do you have? Find out how long someone has been a financial adviser, but don’t rule out a person with only a limited amount of experience – a new financial adviser frequently brings a great deal of enthusiasm to his or her work.

A financial advisor’s longevity is less important than whether he or she has had experience working with someone like you – someone in your financial situation, with your goals and your investment preferences.

What is your investment philosophy? Try to learn if someone favors a specific style of investing or a particular class of investments. These styles or classes may be well-suited for some investors but inappropriate for others. If you believe the person you’re talking to has a “one size fits all” mentality, you might want to look elsewhere.

How will you communicate with me? Financial advisers run their business in different ways, so there’s no one “right” way of communicating with clients. However, you need to feel comfortable that someone will always be available to answer your questions, review your accounts, evaluate your situation and make appropriate recommendations.

If you are interviewing someone who has a partner or an assistant, find out whom you are likely to be communicating with should you decide to become a client.

What services do you provide? Find out just how a prospective financial adviser can help you. For example, some people sell investments only, while others offer investments and insurance.

Keep in mind, though, that you don’t need to be a “one-stop” shopper for investment services. In fact, you might want to ask a prospective financial adviser if he or she has developed working relationships with legal and tax advisers. This “team” approach can be beneficial to you, especially when you get into estate planning.

How are you paid? Financial advisers get paid in several different ways: fees, commissions, salary or some combination of these methods. One way isn’t necessarily any “better” than another, but you should have a clear understanding of how your adviser is paid.

Your association with a financial adviser is one of the most important business relationships you’ll ever have, so make sure it’s a good one – right from the start.

Tina DeWitt and Charlie Wick are financial advisers with Edward Jones. They can be reached in Edwards at 926-1728 and in Eagle at 328-4959.


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