Take the Fear Out of Financial Advice

Recently, Money Moxie partnered with Conte Wealth Advisors to provide you with an  opportunity to start investing with professional advisors, or as an alternative to investing on your own or through an online brokerage.  The advisors at Conte Wealth Advisors bring a wealth of experience, knowledge, and cutting-edge insight that we can all benefit from.  For more information on the Conte team, check out my interview with Frank and Tony Conte. https://moneymoxie.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/get-to-know-frank-and-tony/

Better yet, let’s get some insight from the horse’s mouth!

By: Tony Conte

Tony Conte

Remember your last trip to the dentist? Did you get a teeth cleaning, a little fluoride, maybe gag once or twice on the suction tube jammed into your mouth?  Maybe a simple cleaning morphed suddenly and out of control into an invasive and painful root canal.  Maybe you got no further than the waiting room where you actively ignored the nurse who called your name multiple times, then slinked out unnoticed.

Who doesn’t love going to the dentist??

This is the same fear of the unknown that we reserve for any new endeavor–even trying out a new restaurant can get me a little edgy:  What should I expect?  How dumb will I look if I can’t read the menu which will undoubtedly be entirely in French or some obscure dialect from some Eastern Bloc country?  The same kind of fear that stops us from going to the dentist or trying new things could also keep us from seeking financial advice, even if we desperately need it.

So you say you want to visit with a financial advisor, but you’re a little concerned about what a meeting looks like? 

Most people fear their own ignorance of finance and investments, but I urge every new client to leave that fear at the door.  I don’t go to my barber with a fear in my own ability to cut hair.  Nor do I employ a landscaping company and chastise myself over my ignorance of shrubs, trees and their proper care. 

Does this place make you nervous?

A financial plan may go as deep or stay as shallow as you prefer; and depending on the level of service you require, the appointment structure and level and variety of information the advisor requests from you may vary greatly.  Regardless of the depth of the process, any financial planning or investment strategy meeting usually begins with an introduction to the firm and its advisors, so let’s start with the people you might meet.

Not as boring as it looks!

POINTER #1: Increasingly, people choose to work with advisors who are CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERs (CFP®), or with those who boast the MSFS designation, which stands for Master of Science in Financial Services, as it is the mark of an advisor who takes his/her practice seriously enough to further his/her education for the client’s ultimate benefit.  By no means are these the only designations worth highlighting, you may consider working with an advisor who boasts the AIF, CFA, RFC, or a number of other designations.

POINTER #2: It is important to understand the difference between an “independent” financial advisor and an advisor who is employed by an insurance, mutual fund, or any other company which sells proprietary products through its captive workforce.  The latter is often thought to be less-than-independent.  If an advisor’s compensation is tied to his ability to sell you a product issued by the company that employs him…for which he oftentimes receives a larger commission…then the greater question you may ask yourself is:  am I getting sound financial guidance from someone who places my interests above the interests of the company that employs him/her?

POINTER #3: You’ve likely heard a lot of people talk about “fee-based” asset management.  All that this means is that an annual fee is imposed on an account, and it is generally assessed as a percentage of the assets being managed.  What you get for this fee can be everything from asset management guidance and execution to full-scale financial planning guidance.  It is important to understand how a financial advisor is getting paid for working with you, so don’t be afraid to ask.  It is, after all, your money and you deserve to know how it is being used.

POINTER #4:  Finally, if an advisor is talking over your head, then dig deeper for clarity.  Too often financial advisors get mired in lingo which only other people in finance understand.  You are paying for an experience, so make sure you understand what the advisor is recommending.  If after a few requests, you find that your advisor is still not providing clear guidance, then get up and leave because that kind of advisor is simply not for you.

These may be only a few brief points to consider when picking out who you’d like to manage your money, but I think that’s enough to put you in the hands of the person who’s right for you and your family.  This is, after all, planning for the rest of your life, so take it as seriously as it sounds.

Anthony M. Conte, MSFS, CFP ®, Managing Partner

Conte Wealth Advisors, LLC

 Registered Representative Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC.  Investment Advisor Representative Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.  Cambridge and Conte Wealth Advisors, LLC are not affiliated

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