Now that you have decided you need a financial advisor, what are the next steps?
Once you have determined that you need a financial advisor to help you navigate your financial matters, you need to ask yourself how to go about choosing from the myriad of advisors out there. Most people start by asking friends and family who they use and if they would recommend that person. However, choosing from that group of referrals can be quite challenging if you don’t have a structured process. Below are some of the questions we at Confluence Financial Partners get asked by potential clients that help them arrive at a decision that is best for them and their family. We have provided a brief response to each question in order to give some additional guidance.
1. What services do you provide to clients? We offer comprehensive financial planning that includes, but is not limited to – portfolio management, cash flow/debt analysis, retirement and estate planning, employee benefits/401(k) review, longevity planning and education funding advice, philanthropic planning, as well as banking and lending.
2. What types of clients do you focus on? We focus on clients in which we can have the greatest impact in maximizing their life and legacy.
3. How do you communicate with your clients? We have an agenda-based process in which we send out an agenda ahead of the meeting to ensure the client has time to respond with their input. After the meeting, we send out an executive summary to detail and document our communications, and any next steps. This allows the client to focus in the meeting, instead of having to take their own notes. For more general client communications, we produce podcasts on a variety of subjects we think can be educational, and inspirational to our clients. Additionally, we provide quarterly conference calls on current market events and publish articles periodically on our social media pages.
4. Are you a solo practitioner or is it a team-based approach? Confluence has a team-based approach that allows the clients access to the knowledge and experience of the whole organization. We also make a pro-active effort to coordinate with your other advisors, such as an attorney and/or CPA with regards to tax and estate planning concerns.
5. What makes your client experience unique? We offer access to industry leading technology and financial planning tools that assist in our portfolio construction based on the client’s objectives, rather than simply beating an index that may have little to do with their specific goals. We accomplish this through our in-house, six-person Investment Committee with over 125 years of combined industry experience. They apply our stringent selection criterion to the universe of money managers, selecting proven long-term managers, in which they have the greatest confidence to deliver predictable, consistent results for all our clients. Additionally, they focus on reducing conflicts of interest, not permitting any quid pro quo relationships, which provides clarity around rationale for current positions and ongoing changes. We fully embrace the fiduciary standard, by putting the clients’ interests above our own.
6. How much do your services cost? We can offer different options to suit your needs that may include commissions and/or fixed fee. However, our focus is fiduciary accounts that charge a fee based on a percentage of assets. All firms will disclose each fee type that it charges for its investment advisory services on its Form ADV.
7. Do they seem like a good fit for me? We want to take the time to ask the right questions that get you to talk about you and your family’s needs, wants and wishes. That way we can provide you with tailored advice and an exceptional experience. We strive to create a new standard for helping individuals and families achieve all their financial goals.
We hope that this list of questions and our responses are helpful while you conduct your interviews with potential advisors. This decision can certainly be one of the most important you make in managing and steering your finances into the future. We understand that this process can be overwhelming, so please to take your time, and make sure that all your questions are answered prior to you choosing the advisor you ultimately want to work with.
If you are interested in speaking with us in greater detail, please contact us at any of our three office locations. We look forward to hearing from you soon.