Hiring the Best Advisor

Jason Hutchins, President

Jason Hutchins, President

Six Sure-Fire Steps to Hiring the Best Advisor

Step 1: Don’t go it alone! The rules of the retirement planning game are changing rapidly today. You need trusted professionals who focus on solving these types of financial and legal problems. These trusted professionals won’t be found in the form of your favorite bank teller, nor at the local coffee shop, beauty salon or golf course. The most complete review available will be with specialized teams of professionals who have both a registered investment advisor, licensed insurance producer and works with a qualified elder law attorney who specializes in asset protection.

Step 2: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It’s a common and scary trend today to hear retirees who have made poor decisions based on “buying into great opportunities.” For instance, if a financial salesperson tells you about a 9% CD when you know darn well the bank down the road is paying 1.25% on CDs, guess what? That’s a giant, waving red flag. When you hear something that sounds good and you want to believe it, ask more questions like: “So, what are the strings attached?” If they say “no strings,” then most likely, you need to turn and run. There are a lot of great financial products with attractive features, but even the great opportunities out there come with “rules” (aka “strings attached”). You need to know what they are and if they are acceptable to you and in line with your planning goals. Always use and trust your own good judgment and common sense.

Step 3: Watch out for legal advice from non-lawyers. We know the value of integrating trust documentation and specific financial products. However, be very cautious when the purchase of a financial product also entitles you to free legal documents to support the plan. This is where you can be penny-wise and fortune-foolish. Our business model at Guardian Wells Financial is designed for collaboration among like-minded professionals focused on meeting the goals and objectives of the client. No one professional can wear all of these hats and be good at all of these jobs. A key is to realize legal documents cost money, and a packaged offer with legal documentation included (based on the purchase of a product) should be a giant red flag.

Step 4: Beware of online “resources.” Information online should be viewed with a very skeptical eye. Today it is not uncommon for retirees to jump online to do “research.” The critical question is, are you getting information from a credible source? This can be very difficult to decipher online. Information overload is another problem. If you enter the keyword “revocable trust” on Google, you’ll come up with about 962,000 articles, websites and “resources” to look at. Yes, you need to do research, but on the right thing – finding the right help. Focus your due diligence on finding the right planning team to assist you (as we discussed in step one).

Step 5: Assess how accomplished the potential advice-givers are. There’s nothing worse than getting sold a bad idea. Slick talk can be very persuasive,but it may prove financially disastrous. When seeking professional advice, we recommend that you assess just how accomplished your potential advice-giver really is. How that person answers the following questions should give you a good idea of their qualifications and passion for their work.

Are they well-known and well-regarded in their community and their industries? Whether it’s from media coverage or plain old word of mouth, people generally build a good name for themselves when they really know their stuff. Media outlets, for example, are looking for real experts because they want their viewers, readers or listeners to get credible and accurate information. Like you, they’re looking for someone who doesn’t just talk a good game, but who really knows what they’re doing – who believes in it strongly enough to go on record with their knowledge and insights.

Are they an author on this subject? Though many trustworthy financial professionals are not published authors, professionals who take time to write clearly have a passion for what they do. They’ve taken time to spell out their planning methods and beliefs. It’s not easy writing a book, so they are dedicated and serious about their profession and proud of what they do. Plus, you’ll be able to obtain their book, read it and then check that the advice that they are giving you is in line with the message they published in their book.

Do they invest in their professional knowledge? This question is a great way to gauge the prospective advisor’s commitment to staying current on new laws, tax code changes and cutting-edge ideas to help preserve and grow your wealth. Same goes for lawyers. If you have a large IRA, you might be swayed knowing an advisor has trained with a recognized expert CPA in the area of IRA planning.

Step 6: Be smart and trust your feelings. Much is revealed when you meet face to face. See how you feel. We believe that every person who walks through our office doors should be treated as if they are members of our own family, and other practices do business in the same way. Sure, credentials are important, but so is your gut feeling. Find a team that fully understands and “owns” your concerns, challenges and priorities. That’s the level of confidence, security and trust you need and deserve about this immensely important aspect of your life.