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How to Handle that Meeting with the Financial Adviser

How to Handle that Meeting with the Financial Adviser
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I’ve heard this story from so many women around the world.  You go to the financial adviser meeting with your husband and he – the financial adviser – spends all his time talking with your husband and not you.  You know that it’s important for you and your husband to make financial decisions together and you do.  You are an integral part of these decisions, sometimes even taking responsibility for most of them.  And yet you feel left out of this process.

How can you be more effective in meetings with the financial adviser?

How can you obtain the important information that you and your husband need to make better financial decisions for you as a couple and as a family?

The most often cited cause of conflict in marriages is money.  You need to get this right.

I will help you get at the essential information that you need to manage your financial life effectively…and harmoniously.

These questions are organized into easy, hard and hard-ball.  Even asking the easy ones gets you into the game as an active participant in the process.  The harder questions are more confrontational, but essentially necessary if you are going to make sure your own financial needs are going to be met.

Some of these questions are geared towards interviewing a new adviser, but they can certainly also be asked when the relationship is already established.  If you think the question already may have been addressed, you can simply say ‘can you remind me again….”  If you are looking to establish a relationship with an adviser you will want to interview several people to make sure they’re the right match for you and exhibit key traits of a good adviser.

You can also do some research on your own before the meeting.  This will make you more aware of the people and the company you are dealing with and will make you more confident.  Review the company’s website.  Google the Partners’ names and find out as much as you can about them.  Look at their profiles on Linked-In.  Jot down any questions that come up for you as you perform this review and add them to you list of questions for the next meeting.

Easy Questions

What are your qualifications?
Do you have many clients like me?
How will you help me reach my financial goals?
What happens to our relationship with the firm if something happens to you?
What types of clients do you typically work with?  Are we typical clients for you?
Are you the only adviser that we will be working with?
What services do you provide?
How are you compensated?

Hard Questions

Are you held to a fiduciary standard?
Are you held to any specific Code of Ethics?
Do you provide comprehensive financial planning or just investment management?
What experience do you have? Tell me more about your professional background.
What is your approach to financial planning?
What is your approach to investment management?
How much are we paying for your services?
Can we have a copy of your Form ADV Part II?

Hard Ball Questions

If you accept commissions, will you itemize the amount of compensation you earn from products that you recommend to us?
Do you accept referral fees?
Would you sign a fiduciary oath committing you to put our financial interests first?
Have you ever been disciplined by the SEC or FINRA?
What is your investment management track record?
Is there anyone else who stands to gain from the advice that you are giving us?
Have you ever been publicly disciplined for any unlawful or unethical actions in your career?

It is very important that you identify which services the financial adviser provides and think about what services you really need.  If you need comprehensive financial planning and your financial adviser provides only investment advice, you may have uncovered a source of frustration.  Use these questions to insinuate yourself into the conversation when you and your husband meet with your financial adviser.  As you do, you will gain confidence and effectiveness as a financial decision-maker for yourself, your marriage and your family.

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Ann Terranova Ann Terranova, CFP, a fee only Certified Financial Planner and Investment Advisor Representative, has been in the Financial Services industry since 1983. She founded Union Financial Partners in 1997. Ann has worked with many sports families and is a member of the Sports Financial Advisors Association. She has been quoted extensively in the media, including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Money Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle.