When I began my career in the investment industry in 1987, most investment professionals were called Stock Brokers. Shortly thereafter, the brokerage industry decided the title Stock Broker had a negative association, so our business cards were changed and we all were called Registered Representatives.
Better? Not sure, but it did not really matter because within the next few years our cards were reordered again and now we all were called Financial Consultants, later followed by Investment Consultants. Today, most investment professionals are now simply called Financial Advisors.
As you can imagine, the continual change in titles can be quite confusing to the general public who is just trying to find someone to assist them in
navigating the mine field of the financial services industry.
As with most industries, some firms are better than others. Some individuals are better at their craft, and some advice is certainly better than other advice you may receive. So how is one to know whether they have partnered with the right firm or the right financial advisor? Fortunately, the business of providing investment advice has been evolving for decades, and today there are firms that provide comprehensive investment oversight while putting their clients’ best interests first!
Today, it is much easier to access a firm that is not selling investment products for their parent company, or pushing insurance products on customers because they pay the salesperson well, regardless of whether they are a good fit for the client. It is much easier to access experienced professionals who have spent their careers learning, growing, and helping their clients achieve all that is important to them.
So how do you know if you are working with an evolved firm vs. the old Wall Street model? Be informed. Ask a lot of questions. Take your time and be careful. If anyone pressures you about moving money or investing in certain products, this is usually a red flag. Ask yourself, does my investment advisor really know me? Do they get me? Do they understand what is most important to me and my family, where I am now and where I want to get to? Are they utilizing a consultative approach vs a product-driven approach?
Does your advisor charge a flat fee on the assets they oversee or are they compensated for placing you in certain investment products? These are just a few of the questions I would recommend you ask and think about. There are many variations of business models amongst investment firms, so don’t hesitate to ask the hard questions. Get the answers and then determine if your advisor is acting in a fiduciary capacity; which simply means they are charged with doing what is best for you, the client, not what is best for the firm they work for. You deserve it.
For more information and a detailed list of questions that we believe you should ask your investment advisor, visit our website at asiwealthmanagement.com.
Randy Miller lives in Bend and is President of ASI Wealth Management and Consulting Services. He began his investment career in 1987 and co-founded the firm in 1998. ASI oversees approximately $1.4 billion in assets and provides comprehensive wealth management and consulting services to clients in and around the Pacific Northwest. Headquartered in Bend, Oregon, ASI also has offices in Seattle, Portland and Medford. For more information, visit asiwealthmanagement.com.
ASI Wealth Management and Consulting Services was recently named 2016 Small Business of the Year by the Bend Chamber of Commerce at their annual Sage Business Awards Gala.