Top Questions to Ask a Financial Planner ...and our answers.
It’s time to hire a financial advisor, you know you need help but how do you find the perfect advisor for you? The answer isn’t always clear, but here are the critical questions you need to ask and understand to see if the financial planner is right for you:
Do you focus on financial planning or are you focused on investments?
Under current law, anyone can call themselves a financial planner. In fact, you will find many investment advisors, stockbrokers, insurance agents and other financial product salespeople calling themselves ‘financial planners’. It’s important you understand if their focus, and potential biases, are towards a specific financial solution. Here are two things we think are important to determine a financial planner’s focus.
Education. Does the advisor hold the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation or have specific education such as an undergraduate or master’s degree in financial planning?
Financial Plans: Does the advisor emphasize the importance of planning prior to making an investment, insurance or implanting other recommendations?
Herr Capital Management’s answer: Both Melissa and Terry have specific education and credentials as financial planners. Melissa has a Masters Degree in Financial Planning and Terry holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation. We are always emphasizing the importance of having a financial plan. Investments are important, but they are only a small part of a comprehensive plan. Poor tax management, an improper estate plan, the lack of proper risk mitigation and estate planning can all derail your investments and your goals.
Are you a fiduciary for ALL of your clients? / Do you embrace the role as a fiduciary? Does your compensation method influence your recommendations?
There has been considerable discussion in the financial industry regarding the fiduciary standard. The Department of Labor made an attempt to impose a fiduciary standard, but the courts ruled against them. This means that under current law, there is no requirement for a broker or advisor to act in your best interest. Unfortunately, the industry seems somewhat reluctant to embrace this standard. However, some firms including Herr Capital Management embrace the role as a fiduciary.
Regardless of any rules, our success as a firm has been because we provide our clients with the same advice we would give our own family. We embrace the role as a fiduciary for all of our clients. We assume our clients will be with us for the remainder of their lives. Therefore, we are always going to give you our best advice with the known information regardless of our compensation method.
When discussing your investment performance are you beating the market?
This is probably one of the best questions to determine an advisor’s focus. If they are leading with investment performance, you’ll want to look for the door and for a new advisor. A ‘financial planner’ that touts their investment performance is a clear sign they are focused on investments and set up for failure. There is not an advisor, anywhere, who can consistently beat the market year after year. It’s virtually impossible.
Herr Capital Management is focused on the process of investing and probability of success analysis that comes with financial planning. We can use statistical data to find an investment portfolio and savings program that provides you a diversified portfolio that has a high probability of success in achieving your goals. We are unlikely to ever “beat the market” on a consistent basis. In fact, in years where a client beats the market, it is usually an anomaly or coincidental timing of an investment.
What do you consider the real value you bring to your clients?
Far too many advisors will say service or investment performance.While those are well and good, you probably want more than a canned answer.
While we believe we provide good service and reasonable performance expectations to our clients, our value comes from the partnership we form with you. Anyone can do math but getting to know you and your goals to help you make financial decisions that work for you are critical to your success. When we make a recommendation, we are taking into consideration the impact of taxation, estate plans, insurance as well as your familial goals and emotional well-being. We are intellectually honest and don’t believe our way is always the right way. The right path for you is unique to you. Finding that path only comes from a close collaboration truly understanding your values and what’s important to you.
Any opinions expressed in this forum are not the opinion or view of American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc. (APFS) and have not been reviewed by the firm for completeness or accuracy. These opinions are subject to change at any time without notice. Any comments or postings are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer or a recommendation to buy or sell securities or other financial instruments. Readers should conduct their own review and exercise judgment prior to investing. Investments are not guaranteed, involve risk and may result in a loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investments are not suitable for all types of investors. Herr Capital Management does not provide tax advice and this content should not be regarded as individual tax advice. Any links contained are to external websites we believe to be reliable. Herr Capital Management is not responsible for any content or information contained on external websites. Securities offered through American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc.(APFS) Member FINRA /SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through Herr Capital Management LLC a Registered Investment Advisor which is not affiliated with APFS.