Picking the Right Financial Adviser for Your Personality
July 23, 2020
Choosing a financial adviser is a deeply personal decision. For a start, people often only share details like their wealth with a tiny circle of people. Some actively choose to share it with zero – and even keep some information about their wealth from their significant other.
I don’t condone openness or privacy in one way or another, but this does show that choosing a financial adviser is not a decision we make lightly. After all, this person will become one of the few who we let into that inner circle of trust.
Also, a financial adviser is someone you will need to be honest with. And you will also demand honesty in kind from them.
The appeal of a financial adviser who fits your style
Your first couple of meetings with a financial adviser is absolutely key because the information gleaned from those 1-2 hours will determine the trajectory of the investment strategy that you are recommended. It’s therefore very helpful to have a financial adviser whom you feel very relaxed around because this will enable you to be open and accurate when discussing your finances from the get-go.
We all have embarrassing habits with our spending, and some of us have neurosis which we know will sound odd. However, if we hold back on our own beliefs and attitudes towards money, this is like feeding a decision-making machine with the wrong inputs. If we do this, why should we trust that the outputs will be valuable?
It’s therefore important to find a financial adviser who you just ‘click with’. Time is money, and you won’t be spending lots of quality time with your adviser to ‘break the ice’. You need immediate familiarity and a sense of ease while talking to them in person or on the phone.
If you feel the atmosphere is cold or overly formal and you don’t feel, for whatever reason, that you can comfortably speak openly about these personal matters, then there’s no shame in trying someone else!
A crutch during dark times
I sometimes draw parallels between a financial adviser and a doctor. You visit them with very specific requirements, and draw upon their expertise through short consultations, to help you make decisions that will help you in the long run. The second parallel is that just like doctors, financial advisers need to be skilled at communicating difficult messages and bad news. After all, the market does not only go up.
Investing is a game of strategy, patience, and sometimes luck. Occasionally, luck simply isn’t going to be on your side.
For example, you may receive an inheritance and seek advice one month before a stock market crash. No financial adviser worth their salt would make gut-calls on the direction of the stock market and tell a client to stay away (as statistically speaking this is a poor call). But naturally, any client in that situation is going to rightfully ask a few questions when they realize that the stock market has plunged quickly, taking some of their portfolio value with it.
As you’ll be aware – the trick to recovering quickly from stock market dips is to not sell at the bottom. Therefore this will be one of the primary messages delivered by an adviser during a difficult update call with a client. Whether the client trusts and stands by that advice will have a lasting impact on their fortune.
Using this as a good example, it’s important that you feel you trust your adviser to make the right decision by you, with competence. So long as you believe in their wisdom and modeling, you will also be happier to accept any drops you experience along the way, without feeling additional emotions such as suspicion, anger, and frustration which are not necessary parts of the investing experience.