Financial Services

5 Considerations When Seeking a Financial Advisor

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Financial Advice Isn’t Just For The Wealthy.

Oftentimes, when we think of financial advisors, the upper class and those planning for retirement are first to come to mind. In fact, in a survey conducted by MagnifyMoney, 42% of respondents (notably, 48% of women and 35% of men surveyed) indicated they believe financial advisors are “only for wealthy people,” and 25% of respondents indicated they don’t see the need for a financial advisor for those younger than middle-aged.

However, those not in the wealthy or close to retirement-age categories – i.e., Gen Z-ers, millennials, and low to mid-income individuals – could greatly benefit from a financial advisor’s assistance, and financial advisors can stand to profit by diversifying their business books, as well.

Generation Z is the largest, most ethnically diverse generation in American history, comprising 27% of the U.S. population, and Millennials make up ~25% of the U.S. population. While keeping in mind that many Gen-Zers and millennials also fall into the low to mid-income professional category, this means well over half of the U.S. population is not seeking financial advice. This represents many missed opportunities for both advisors to build more business and potential clients to get the most out of their money.

Many are hesitant to seek financial advice because they don’t have enough supplementary income to invest, but it is a common misconception that all financial advisors are solely investment focused. In addition to being able to offer investment advice, a good financial advisor can offer personalized budgeting, debt management, and saving strategies to help clients achieve their financial goals.

If you fall into the majority that does not currently use a financial advisor, here are some suggestions and considerations if you choose to seek one:

1. Research your options. Your current financial institution may have tools and resources available to their account owners that are low-cost or even free and suffice your advisory needs, so it’s a good place to start your research. If their tools don’t suffice your needs, there are also many online databases and search portals (https://www.letsmakeaplan.org/, https://findanafc.org/, https://www.napfa.org/, https://www.garrettplanningnetwork.com/) that allow you to filter searches based on location and other criteria to help you find a financial advisor or counselor appropriate for your circumstances. Lastly, robo-advisors and budgeting apps can also be good options, especially for those with fewer assets, as they typically charge a smaller fee.

2. Understand your financial goals. Having a true grasp on your financial and life goals, whatever they may be (I want to pay off my credit cards and student loans so I can stop living in debt, I want to be able to pay my child’s college tuition, I want to buy a new car…) and clearly communicating these goals to an advisor helps the advisor act more intentionally when helping you come up with a financial strategy. It also helps provide insight into what kind of advisor may be best for you, as some advisors specialize in helping clients navigate certain life events and circumstances.

3. Check the advisor’s credentials. Chartered financial analysts (CFAs) and certified financial planners (CFPs) are required to act as fiduciaries, meaning they must act and advise in the best interest of their clients. If a financial advisor is a fiduciary, they will usually advertise it. You can also check the credentials of an advisor on the SEC website.

4. Understand differences between the advice offered by different types of institutions (wirehouses/banks, insurance agents, independent broker-dealers, independent registered investment advisors, etc.). Advisors in a wirehouse environment are considered employees of a firm, which sometimes limits them in the types of clients they can take on, while independent advisors have more control over who and how they advise.

5. Understand how the advisor is compensated. Some financial advisors charge a flat fee or hourly rate, while others receive a commission from investment and financial products. Fees are usually calculated based on how much money an advisor manages for a client, ranging from .25% to 1% of the client’s managed assets. For those without a lot of assets and seeking more of a general financial game plan, financial advisors paid hourly are a very practical option, but those with more dynamic financial situations may require more consistent management, where the fee structure makes more sense. It’s also important to note that some institutions, like your bank, will also offer “free” financial advice, but while offering that advice, they may offer products or offerings that are not free.

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Perficient’s financial services consulting team knows that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to a financial institution’s client engagement; different financial advisor models require different personalization approaches. Personalization efforts are a long-term strategy to increase loyalty and revenue and remain competitive in the market.

We have helped wealth management companies enhance front-end user experiences, improve and monitor data quality, modernize architecture and legacy platforms, broaden scale, migrate to the cloud, and more. We’ve equipped them with the tools and platforms needed to empower their financial advisors to support clients in the most personalized manner possible.

Interested in discussing how Perficient can help you achieve your personalization goals that meet today’s client expectations? Contact our financial services consulting team today.

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Madeline McDermott

Madeline McDermott is an industry marketing coordinator at Perficient, based out of St. Louis.

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