5 moves you should make when choosing a financial advisor

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Wealth management firms are all different, with their own specializations and services. As a result, the process for choosing a wealth manager is a very personal one. Wealth managers work closely together with their clients to identify financial goals and map out a plan for achieving them that’s built around choosing solid investments that’ll grow over time. If you’re ready to build wealth, there are a number of guidelines you should follow for choosing a firm. You can also use SmartAsset’s free matching tool to help you find financial advisors who serve your area.

What a Wealth Management Firm Does

Wealth management is perhaps the most comprehensive financial service you can take advantage of. That’s because it’s holistic in nature, meaning all of your financial needs, goals and circumstances will be taken into account. This level of personalization is rare, which is why some firms may not even offer full wealth management.

 

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2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals get started now.

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If you subscribe to wealth management services, here are a few offerings you might come across:

Of course, to get this type of attention you’ll likely need to pay somewhat pricey fees. However, for many people this is still worth it, as handling all of these needs on your own can be quite difficult.

Choosing a Wealth Management Firm to Work With

If you sign on with a wealth management firm, it will be one of the most important financial decisions you’ll ever make. In turn, it should be treated with a strong attention to detail. After all, you’ll be paying fees to a firm for this level of treatment.

Just like any financial decisions, there are a number of factors to be aware of and important questions to ask. Below are some good guidelines to follow when you’re picking an individual wealth manager or a wealth management firm to hand your money over to.

Tip 1: Get a Feel for Each Firm’s Ideal Client

In general, wealth management firms cater to investors who have a sizable asset base, but they don’t all take the same approach. Some wealth managers may prefer to work with clients who have between $50,000 and $500,000 in assets, while others might exclusively target millionaires. Asking a wealth manager about the kinds of clients the company works with can give you a sense of where their expertise lies and whether that coincides with what you’re looking for.

Tip 2: Compare the Services at Each Firm

If you’re on the hunt for a wealth manager, you may already have a clear idea of what you need them to help you with. If that’s not the case, it’s important to consider what kinds of products and services different firms offer. Does your wealth manager only offer investing advice or does the firm also assist with things like taxes or estate planning? Some firms may specialize in certain types of investments or strategies. For instance, some firms focus exclusively on real estate investments, while others prefer stock-picking.

 

It’s also a good idea to pay close attention to the firm’s overall investment strategy to make sure it aligns with your goals. If you’re considering several different firms and they’re all offering the same cookie-cutter portfolio options, that’s a sign that you may need to look elsewhere.

Tip 3: Review Each Firm’s Fee and Commission Schedule

Wealth managers can help you increase your wealth, but they don’t work for free. There are two basic ways that wealth managers earn money: by charging commissions on the products they sell or assigning fees to specific services. If you’re not looking to get a sales pitch every time you meet with your wealth manager, a fee-only advisor may be the best choice.

 

When it comes to cost, the most important thing to consider is the amount of value you’ll get for what you pay. If you’re spending a large percentage of your earnings on fees, it’s a good idea to be sure that your portfolio’s performance is worth the extra expense.

Tip 4: Ask About Each Firm’s Client-Advisor Availability

While you probably don’t need to speak to your wealth manager on a daily basis, you might need to be in touch with them regularly. Asking how often they meet with their clients and how they prefer to communicate is important to ensure that you’re both on the same page. If you have concerns about a particular investment or a question about a fee, you don’t want to be scrambling.

Tip 5: Read Through Each Firm’s SEC Records and Brochure

Wealth management firms can have millions or even billions of dollars in assets under management, but that alone isn’t an indicator of how well they serve their clients. If you’ve zeroed in on a handful of firms, consider their past history. For instance, has the firm received any special recognition or awards? Can you find positive reviews through the Better Business Bureau or another consumer site?

 

Digging into a firm’s background may take a little time but it can be worth the time and extra effort if you’re on a mission to build wealth in your 20s and 30s or before you reach retirement age.

Bottom Line

Working with a wealth manager is all about forming a relationship with someone who has a fiduciary duty to you and cares about your money as much as you do. Choosing the wrong person for the job has the potential to be disastrous, not only for you but for the next generation if you’re planning to pass wealth on to your heirs. Using our tips as a framework can make it easier to find a firm that’ll have your best interests in mind.

Tips on Finding a Financial Advisor

  • If you want help managing your financial plan and investments, a financial advisor can help. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • When you meet with a financial advisor, make sure you are asking the right questions. This will enable you to ensure that whichever advisor you choose is fully the right match for you.

This article originally appeared on Smartasset.com and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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Worried about retirement? Read this now

 

As you approach retirement, are you getting nervous about how much you’ve saved – or haven’t saved – to live comfortably for the rest of your life after you retire? If you’re worried you haven’t saved enough for retirement, you’re not alone.

Around 22% of Americans have less than $5,000 saved for retirement, 15% have no savings at all, and more than half (56%) of Americans don’t even know how much they’ll need to retire comfortably, according to Planning & Progress 2019, a study by Northwestern Mutual.

Your future doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, though. Even if you’re behind on saving for retirement, it may not be too late to create a better retirement for you and your family.

Keep reading for six last-minute strategies to add to what you’ve got or make the most of what you already have.

SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

 

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Once you’re 50 years of age or older, you can start making “catch-up contributions” to some retirement accounts to increase retirement savings. Catch-up contributions up to $6,500 annually in 2020 may be permitted on 401(k) (other than a SIMPLE 401(k), 403 (b) or SARSEP plans.

You’ll have to comply with other IRS catch-up contributions, too. IRA annual catch-up contributions are limited to $1,000 until 2020. A SIMPLE IRA or a SIMPLE 401(k) plan may permit annual catch-up contributions up to $3,000 until 2020.

 

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If you’re not taking advantage of your employer’s 401(k) match, you’re throwing away free money you could squirrel away for retirement. Even if you’re already participating in your company’s 401(k), consider increasing your contribution to meet the annual limit of your employer’s match contribution.

That way, you can build retirement savings at a faster pace, with your employer’s assistance.

 

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Not everyone is comfortable with taking more risk with their retirement account’s asset mix. However, if your retirement savings is not on track to offer what you’ll need to meet retirement goals, it may be time to think about increasing risk to get a higher return on investments.

Talk to your financial advisor or retirement planner to find out if adjusting your retirement account investment asset mix may help boost your retirement savings balance.

 

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Few people want to work for the rest of their lives, but not everyone is financially able to retire at the traditional retirement age of 65. Maybe you once planned to retire at an even younger age but are having second thoughts due to the rising cost of premiums you’ll pay before Medicare kicks in at age 65. Working longer may be the answer to your retirement savings quandary.

One reason to wait to retire is that the longer you delay collecting social security benefits, the larger the check you’ll receive each month. If you have health insurance through an employer, that’s another argument for delaying retirement, since health insurance could be a costly expense. Working a year or two longer also gives you more time to add to retirement savings.

 

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Cutting expenses is no fun, but neither is an impoverished retirement. What if you cut back now on a few luxuries and other expenses that your current income allows so you could sock away more every month for retirement savings? For example, you may be able to cut your grocery bill in half by shopping at a discount grocer or using coupons.

How much would you save if you got rid of cable and subscribed to a couple of streaming services instead? What if you got one massage a month instead of two or went an extra week between haircuts? Commit to taking any money you’d have otherwise spent and depositing it in savings instead.

 

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The retirement income you’ll need to barely squeak by in one city may allow you to live far better in a town or city with a lower cost of living. If you want your retirement savings to stretch further, think about moving to a more affordable region.

For example, the most expensive areas in the U.S. to live are Hawaii, Alaska, the Northeast and the West Coast, according to the third-quarter composite cost-of-living index at the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, where you’ll find the annual cost of living in each state. The least expensive regions are Midwest and Southern states.

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