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What to Look for When Choosing a Financial Advisor


Recently, some outlets have attempted to commoditize our industry, whether it be through social media posts or specially targeted articles, into the category of “cheaper is always superior”. This type of information, which heavily implies that personalized advice is not needed (you can do it with an app or with the guidance of a call center) goes against everything that Steel Valley Investment Group of Raymond James stands for.

In as many ways as the accessibility of information has changed investing, to allow for those DIY-ers, it has also changed what clients want from professional advisors.

This wealth of information availability has also challenged those low cost providers to offer individual wealth management services at comparable costs to a traditional advisor.

So what’s the difference between a “low cost advisor” and a firm like Steel Valley? Often times it comes down to choice and accessibility: Does your advisor have open architecture to invest in the most appropriate manner for clients? Are your investment options limited by where your advisor works or how they are licensed? Is the advisor being compensated differently for those options? How were they educated to make this advice?

What do most of our clients want?
Top notch service.
Personalized advice.
Competent and Professional investment advice.
A Financial plan designed to achieve their individual goals.
Accessible and supportive technology platforms
All at a fair price.

And, to put it simply, that is what we offer.

But, life is about choices and it pays to be careful with those choices. From picking a college to a first car to an apartment to a new home to a reliable mechanic to a roofer, choices come in all shapes and sizes throughout our lives. While you often have the ability to learn to do all of these items yourself, we believe there is no substitute for professional and personal advice.

In our opinion, finding a financial advisor that is going to be with you for the long haul is a choice that you should make with the same amount of discretion as any other in your life.

Do it wisely and with due diligence.

Below, we give a few suggestions on where to take a look at which financial advisor is the best fit for you.

1. Price does not imply worth: Be wary of financial advisors that advertise their lost cost or fees. While they may initially seem like a great value for someone new to investing or for those who are pinching pennies, their fees may be the same as many other financial advisors, especially for young professionals and people starting out with investing, and for those who have not retired. On the opposite end, a higher cost does not mean you get more services or a better return.

2. Consider certifications: What education has the advisor received? There are many certifications and specialty designations (some more comprehensive than others). Don’t be afraid to ask questions on what they are and what it means to you. You may also want to look for “social certifications” by asking friends and family for recommendations based on their previous experiences.

3. What kind of help do you need?: Have a clear idea of what your goals are before you set up a meeting with potential financial advisors. Are you looking for advice on a specific financial situation such as buying a house or going back to school? Are you looking for comprehensive financial planning for your family which includes saving for education, retirement, etc.? Are you looking for an asset manager who you will have invest your money for a long period of time?

4. Ask how they make money: While you’re choosing your financial planner, it’s not an awkward question to ask them how they make money. Fee-only advisors have a fiduciary obligation to act on the interests of their clients. They make money through flat fees, hourly rates or a percentage of the assets they manage, not through commissions.

We encourage you to take your time when choosing a financial advisor and treat it just as important a choice as you would for anything else in your life your deem important.

As always, our family based team of Kelly McLean Rindock, Jim McLean and Melissa Galm are ready to apply over 50 years of combined financial industry experience and a multigenerational perspective to the goals and milestones in your life. We’re here to guide each generation of your family every step of the way. Come join us – so we can treat you like family. Contact us today.

Views expressed are not necessarily those of Raymond James & Associates and are subject to change without notice. Information contained herein was received from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed. Information provided is general in nature, and is not a complete statement of all information necessary for making an investment decision.

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