What to look for in a financial advisor

What to look for in a financial advisor

We often get asked the question: “So what does a financial advisor actually do?” And that’s quickly followed up by, “I’m not sure whether I need an advisor to help me.”

Different advisors will have slightly different takes on these questions. Here’s ours.

As a financial advisor, we’re here to help you build the life you want by creating a financial roadmap that will make it happen. We do this collaboratively, setting goals together aligned with what’s most important to you – your values; your lifestyle; your priorities. And we’ll give you all the support and advice you need to help you achieve that good life.

But why do I need this advice and not just go it alone?

Maybe you’ve come into some money and not sure what to do next. Maybe you’re going through a difficult time and need some help shoring up your finances. Or maybe you’re simply looking long-term to starting a family and eventually retiring, and you want to have a clear plan in place.

Whatever the reason, we know many people are a bit unsure of what to expect from that first meeting with an advisor – and the ones to come. We thought we’d help by sharing how we approach meeting our clients for the first time, and the steps we take to make the journey throughout one that’s open, positive and empowering.

Slow and steady

Quite often a life event will trigger that first appointment; a wedding, death, birth of a child, illness, job promotion, job loss. The last thing you want is a hard sell. Before you even commit to a meeting, you want to get a good sense of what is important to the advisor and how it aligns with your own values and approach. We think that’s so important. It’s why your first contact with us is typically via a 15-minute phone call where we can learn a bit about you and your expectations; and you can learn about us. We can also help you prepare for our first meeting if you decide to take that next step.

No pressure. No awkwardness. Just a great way to start a two-way relationship.

Arrange your free 15-minute consultation by clicking here.

All about you

It seems obvious, but every person is different. Different values, risk profile (risk taker/risk averse), lifestyle, occupations, and goals. A good financial advisor will take the time to gain a clear understanding of how each individual makeup will shape the financial plan of that person, couple or family – and how that sits with their overall life goals. You can’t have one without the other.

It’s why our first catch up with you is what we call a Discovery appointment. It’s where we set the foundation for what you want to achieve based on what’s important to you now and in the future – looking at the short, medium and long term.

Yes, this takes a bit of work on your behalf. But we’ve got plenty of ways to help you think about your short to long-term goals, such as the five L’s – Life, Love, Learn, Laugh and Legacy. Here, we look at:

  • Life: What does your life look like, now and in ten years time?
  • Love: What are your important relationships? How will you nurture them and add value to them?
  • Learn: What are your passions that you’d like to get better at, or things you’d like to try in life?
  • Laugh: What are the things that make you happy? It could be travelling with friends, painting, baking – anything that makes you smile – or even better, laugh.
  • Legacy: What do you want to contribute or give back to society or those around you?

As you can see, it’s not about numbers on a page. It’s about focusing on your overall financial wellbeing so you can achieve those ‘L’ goals – or what we call your Good Life. You should expect this level of commitment and understanding from your financial advisor. It’s the only way to develop a roadmap designed specifically for you.

Click here to learn more about why we believe financial wellbeing is so important.

A clear way ahead

So, you and your financial advisor have a clear picture of where you are now and what the future looks like. Big tick. The next question is how you’re going to get there.

The answer is with a plan and approach that is simple to understand and implement. We know how hard it is to stick to everyday activities like managing cash flow and budgets – essential to any financial/life roadmap. The more equipped and empowered you are to put these things in place, the greater chance you will have to achieve your goals.

We’re like your personal trainer for your financial wellness. You’re the one in control of your wealth creation. We’re there to support you, motivate you, and give you the tools to reach your goals.

There’s many ways we go about supporting you along this journey:

  • We’ll create a concise yet comprehensive strategy that details your goals and the steps we’ll take together to achieve them
  • We’ll revisit this strategy at regular intervals to review and adjust if required
  • We’ll set you up with helpful tools such as our Tribeca Tracker which makes budgeting, cash flow and reporting hassle free – and even enjoyable
  • We’ll offer opportunities to expand your knowledge in areas from finance to wellbeing through events, webinars and online content.

For us, it’s not about creating the roadmap and then leaving you to navigate by yourself. We’re with you every step of the way to help you stay on course – or take a slightly different direction if life throws up the occasional fork in the road.

Want to read more about our Tribeca Tracker? Click here.

Honesty and trust

For a relationship to be long-lasting, it must be based on honesty, trust and respect. It’s what you should expect and demand from your financial advisor.

This starts with that first call and meeting, and it also needs to be reflected in discussions about fees and agreed standards. Again, this should be clear and upfront so there’s no chance of misunderstanding.

All of this and more should be detailed in your Statement of Advice (SOA), which must be signed by you before your financial advisor can start implementing your plan.

The government’s moneysmart site has a great summary of what is typically contained in an SOA. It should:

  • address your financial goals and personal situation
  • list accurate financial details, such as your assets, debts, income and expenses
  • has a level of risk you’re comfortable with
  • explain what the advice covers (and doesn’t cover)
  • explain how the recommended strategy fits your financial goals, risk profile, time frame, and financial situation
  • explain how investments will be managed
  • detail how any recommended products fit into the plan
  • explain the pros and cons of switching to another financial product (for example, another super fund)
  • clearly shows all the fees you’ll pay, how they’re paid, and who they’re paid to

Remember, this document is your starting point. Make sure you’re happy and clear on all aspects of your plan and how your financial advisor will work with you. Ask questions. Challenge your advisor on points you don’t understand. Make suggestions yourself. That’s what we encourage at Tribeca, because we think your financial wellbeing is too important not to be 100% on the same page.

By knowing what to expect from your financial advisor and building a strong relationship from the start, you’re already well on your way to achieving your financial goals and Good Life.

If you would like to arrange a free 15-minute phone consultation with one of our financial advisors, please contact our Tribeca Tribe here.

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