Smart financial planning decisions help clients adapt to life transitions and progress toward their financial goals. Effective financial planning is emotionally complicated and deeply personal. The challenge of identifying and engaging the right advisor is an arduous undertaking. Remember, it’s your family and your money—and you must live with the outcome of your engagement. A lack of standardized options, varying degrees of competence, a fragmented industry, and the psychology of habit all perpetuate ambiguity and confusion when attempting to identify the best advisory team.
The past few years have substantiated the fact that not all financial managers are exemplary. Empathetic wealth managers inspire their clients to adopt the positive change needed to reach their life financial goals. By being empathetic, the “best” wealth managers provide their clients with clarity regarding what matters most and the confidence that each financial decision is rational and smart. As a public policy resource and steward, Blue Ocean Global Wealth strives to guide and educate all consumers.
Don’t confuse financial planning with investing:
Financial planning is not simply a retirement portfolio. Financial planning is about controlling spending, managing credit, reducing taxes, increasing savings, protecting family and assets, and building wealth for the future. The financial planning process reconciles how investment decisions impact all areas of your financial situation.
Are you offered solutions prior to having all of your questions addressed? Empathetic listening is very similar to what psychologists refer to as “active listening”. Your wealth manager should repeat to you what he or she thinks you stated to confirm understanding. If your prospective wealth manager is actively listening, he or she will know not to offer solutions until you have had a chance to pose all of your questions and explain your situation completely.
Be wary of “diversified cruise control”, which occurs when your capital is allocated to a “diversified” basket of investments with no plan for overlap, monitoring, due diligence, sell discipline, asset allocation, and risk analysis.
Does your advisor have a genuine desire to understand your financial situation? Traditionally, financial advisors identify a problem and offer a solution. The unfortunate result of this approach is that it can magnify problems and impede the exchange of dialogue. In contrast, empathetic listening promotes a natural flow of information that inevitably takes conversations between advisors and clients in different directions; directions that present the opportunity for deeper understanding of your most intimate fears and concerns, and hopes and dreams.
Do your homework and be diligent about checking references: Interview candidates several times, and request and verify several references. FINRA.org is the site of the financial industry’s regulatory agency where you can obtain records on stockbrokers, investment advisors, and insurance agents and their firms. FINRA offers information on the states and regulatory organizations they are registered with, in addition to the licenses they hold and the exams they have successfully completed. Adviserinfo.sec.gov offers information about clients, fees, and business and disciplinary records for investment advisory firms that manage more than $25 million and are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Click on “Investment Advisor Search” in the left column to see Form ADV.