In Financial Advisor

How should you get started with a financial advisor?

If you’re considering working with a financial advisor, you may be wondering this – and it’s a good question. Asking and answering it will clarify your expectations for the advising engagement.

With that said, here are the five steps I recommend in getting started.

1. Determine Your Goals

The first step toward working with a Seattle financial advisor is to determine your goals in doing so.

Without goals, financial advising engagements are far less valuable. You may ask yourself questions like:

  • What specific financial outcomes would I like to achieve?
  • What would a successful relationship look like for me?
  • Why do I need this service?

These questions are a good start. You may be able to define specific services – say, estate planning, wealth management, insurance consulting, etc. – that you desire. It’s worth noting, too, that financial advisors can help to inform your goals; if you have semi-formed ideas for your financial future, an advisor can help to give them more tangible shape.

Whether you have clear-cut objectives going into your engagement or whether your engagement helps to define your objectives, the foundation of any advising service should be clear goals.

2. Consult Financial Advisors

The second step toward working with a financial advisor is obvious: Get in touch with a few financial advisors! Find them through referrals or on Google and create a shortlist of a few options to work with.

I recommend consulting with two or three advisors as you get started. Most will offer a free initial assessment or portfolio review. Take them up on this. Your correspondence with them over this process will help you to evaluate their fit to your goals and personality. Reviewing a few different options will give you a broader perspective on your decision.

3. Review Your Portfolio

Third, any potential Seattle financial advisor will want to review your portfolio as you outline what an engagement could look like.

Depending on the nature of your goals, this review might be focused toward different areas of your financial life. Generally, though, the review will seek to understand the current state of your finances and may uncover some “quick wins” that can benefit you moving forward.

The process will work something like this:

  • You’ll contact the financial advisor with initial interest.
  • They’ll clarify your goals and send you documentation to capture the information they’ll use to inform your strategy.
  • You’ll fill out the documentation to capture the state of your finances pertaining to your engagement. You’ll submit it the completed paperwork to the advisor.
  • The advisor will analyze your current status and present their findings. They’ll offer a few steps forward.

Going through the consultation process should be helpful as you evaluate the advisor’s approach. From there, you’ll have a decision to make

4. Chart a Path Forward

If you do move ahead with a financial advisor, a common next step is to detail out the financial plan you’ll be following.

This can take different forms. At Sapling Wealth, for example, I offer comprehensive, one-time financial plans that take a deep dive into the complexities of tricky financial issues such as personal spending, healthcare, aging parents, education, and retirement savings.

This service consists of approximately 3-4 meetings (in-person and online) after documentation is collected. To give you an idea of the depth of the work: I spend about 15-25 hours of analysis on my end outside of client meetings. However, this service does not include continuous advice and is limited to the scope of this engagement.  Clients are always free to come back later, under a new engagement, to get an updated financial plan.

The objective of my financial planning offering (and of most financial plans) is to provide a reference document to chart future steps.

5. Always Be Strategic

Finally, after your advisor has reviewed your portfolio and crafted a plan toward your goals, it’s time to walk the path that’s been laid out. You’ll follow the advice and action steps that have been outlined in the financial plan.

Practically, your advisor will offer two things as you move forward: First, they’ll provide ongoing strategy. This may mean that they actively manage your portfolio; it may mean that they adjust your plan as circumstances change. The key, in either case, is that your plan remains relevant to you and that your financial strategies continue to support your desired lifestyle.

Second, your advisor will help to hold you accountable to your desired outcomes, as well. Left to our own devices, it’s easy to go off-course – but when you’re regularly checking in with someone who’s aware of your financial situation, you’re more likely to stay consistently strategic. The behavioral coaching that an advisor provides can be a big, practical benefit toward a successful engagement.

Ready to Take the First Step?

As you work toward your financial goals, I hope that this information is helpful in your consideration of financial advisors.

If you’re ready to take the first step and schedule a consultation, I’d love to hear from you.

I have over 30 years of financial service experience, which has given me a deeper understanding of the risks and rewards of investing and familiarity within a broad range of individual financial contexts. If you’re ready to grow your assets with thoughtful investment advice, we may be a good fit.

Schedule a review of your portfolio today, and let’s take the first step toward figuring out what’s best for you.

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