When it comes to finding quality financial advice, one of the most common things people tell me is that the process feels a lot like shopping for a used car,i.e. the pricing is opaque and there is this persistent, nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you are being taken for a ride. It doesn’t have to be this way! Thanks to technology – and the COVID lockdown which showed us how we can maintain very productive working relationships from different locations – the options for working with high quality, well-trained, reasonably priced financial advisors whether you have $100 to invest or $1 million to invest have never been greater. Here are some tools to help you get started.
What Your Financial Advisor Isn’t Telling You: the ten essential truths you need to know about your money by Liz Davidson. CEO of Financial Finesse – the nation’s largest workplace employer wellness program provider – Liz has seen and heard it all when it comes to the hunt for a quality advisor. The ten items she highlights in this book are exactly the same ones I tell people to focus on when seeking out professional financial services. This easy to read book is an ideal guidebook to find the right advisor for you.
For many decades if you didn’t have $500,000 to $1 million, you didn’t meet the asset minimum to become a client of many wealth managers. Technology has changed all of that. There are now a variety of high-quality firms to choose from no matter how much or how little you have to invest right now. Two of my favorite firms in the new robo-advisor category are Betterment and Ellevest (a company founded by women for women). Then there are long-established firms that are now offering advisory services with either lower minimum asset sizes or more innovative pricing models such as Vanguard’s Digital Advisor offering and Brighton Jones’ OpenPlan (Disclaimer: I am a Brighton Jones’ alum :).
Another way to find high-quality investment and financial planning guidance is to search for firms and advisors meeting certain criteria. For example, I’m a huge fan of a newly blossoming type of service called Financial Life Planning.” To find advisors whose practices are rooted in this concept you can see a list of firms who have been trained (as I was) in this area by the pioneering mother/daughter firm, MoneyQuotient. If you are a fan of index-like investing and what to check out advisors who utilize an evidenced-based investment philosophy you can search a database to find an advisor near you who utilizes mutual funds created by Dimensional Fund Advisors, a firm I love and who are industry stalwarts when it comes to this type of investing.
And yet another way is to search databases from two of the highly regarded industry certification groups. To be a part of one or both of these groups, advisors must meet a very rigorous set of standards. The CFP Board (CFP stands for Certified Financial Planner) and NAPFA (which stands for the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) each maintain member databases, and I find their membership threshold standards to be top-notch.
Women in Need
What if you find yourself in such a financial pickle that you can’t afford to pay for the advice you need to get yourself out of the money dilemma you are in? Then say a big word of thanks to Stacy Francis, founder of the non-profit organization, Savvy Ladies. Savvy Ladies operates a Free Financial Helpline staffed by volunteer CFP professionals. Savvy Ladies also has an amazing on-demand database of webinars from financial experts (including me!) talking about a wide range of money topics so you can get help from a real person and access resources to further educate yourself all through one non-profit. (Disclaimer: I sit on the Advisory Board of this non-profit).