Not all relationships last forever, including professional ones. The attorney who helped you when you bought your first home may not be the best fit to help you with eldercare concerns, and the doctor who treated your young children’s minor illnesses may not be the most suitable choice to help you navigate cancer care. Even your favorite teacher from grade school probably wouldn’t be the one to mentor you through your dissertation. Not surprisingly, you might even have to consider changing financial advisors at some point. As we evolve, so do our needs, and professionals also experience changes in their lives that may affect their ability to keep up with the ever-changing environment. They may improve and adapt, or they may not.
Sometimes, it is necessary to take a step back and objectively assess our current professional relationships. Perhaps they are not what they used to be, or maybe they were satisfactory but not fulfilling enough. Here are seven signs that it may be time to reevaluate your relationship with your financial advisor. Although they may be a competent advisor, they may not be the ideal fit for you at this moment.
1. They’re Not Hearing You
More than anything else a financial advisor needs to consider the needs and desires of his or her clients. Many advisors are attentive listeners. They take copious notes. They also reflect back on your thoughts and feelings to ensure a complete understanding.
If they are not doing something close to this, how can they possibly know what is best for you? If they are not taking the time to get to know you and continue to know you, they lack essential information to make appropriate recommendations.
If your advisor is not hearing you, either because they’re not asking or because they’re not paying attention, it may be time to consider finding a new advisor.
2. Recommendations are Not Based on Your Goals
Having an advisor who truly understands you and your current situation and future aspirations can be very helpful in achieving your goals. To achieve this, changing financial advisors might be in order. A great financial advisor will guide you through the process and explain the reasoning behind it and show you how that works, ultimately showing you how to reach your desired outcome. While some recommendations may be challenging, that’s ok. An advisor may need to show you why you might need to step outside your comfort zone to achieve what you want to achieve, or alternatively perhaps shoot for a lower goal. Not everything you want to achieve will necessarily be easy, an advisor needs to have direct conversations about where you are and what it takes to get you where you want to be.
However, if you find that your advisor's recommendations don’t align with your goals or if you do not fully understand your advisor’s reasoning, it may be time to consider finding a new advisor who can better serve your needs.
3. They Don't Speak an Understandable Language
All fields have jargon, but not all explanations need jargon. A good advisor explains concepts and investments using language that is understandable to the client. If your advisor repeatedly uses terms you don’t understand without explanation, you may not be able to properly evaluate their recommendations.
Every financial concept, every financial product, and everything you will ever need to do to reach your financial goals can be explained in understandable terms. Your advisor may need to introduce some terms, but they should always take the time to explain them and ensure that you understand that information. And if you ever feel like you are not quite getting it, do not hesitate to ask for clarification! There's nothing wrong with that. But everything an advisor recommends should be understandable.
If your advisor uses a lot of jargon or you are unclear about what your advisor is really saying you may need to consider finding a new advisor.
4. You Don't Trust Them Completely
Your advisor needs to put your interests first and you need to be certain that is happening. We’re talking about your money and your future.
If you don’t trust your advisor it is definitely time to consider finding a new one.
5. Lack of Responsiveness
This is something that should have been established the first time you met with your advisor early on, including their preferred time frame for returning calls or messages. They should have been clear on what they consider a responsive time frame for returning calls or messages and should always strive to work within that constraint.
As a client, it is important to be reasonable and understand that not everything is an emergency. In most cases, a response within 24 hours is likely sufficient. It is likely that your advisor has a successful practice and a number of clients to support. If your advisor takes a couple of days to get back to you that is a problem.
If your advisor consistently takes longer than agreed upon to get back to you, it may be worth considering finding a new advisor. Overall, clear communication and mutual respect are key to a positive and successful advisor-client relationship.
6. Failure to Keep All Parties Involved
Oftentimes a financial advisor serves a couple, not just an individual. One member of a couple may have a more natural and expressive relationship with the advisor, but it is crucial to consider the needs of all parties and involve all of them in discussions and decisions.
There are times when a couple has one person handle the financial matters. One person makes the decisions, and that one person meets with the advisor. That’s up to the couple. However, if both members of a couple are meeting with the advisor, it is essential to ensure that both are included in the conversation. If your advisor does not include all parties in the discussion and decisions it may be time to consider finding a new advisor.
7. They Don't Stay in Touch
You should hear from your advisor on a regular basis. Like responsiveness, this is often discussed in the first meeting, so that expectations are set for both sides.
Meetings normally happen at periodic intervals, depending on the client’s needs and timeframes. Not everyone needs to meet with their advisor quarterly, no one should meet less frequently than annually. The level of contact in between should have an established minimum. For example, if you are only meeting face to face once a year, are you having a Zoom or phone meeting quarterly or semiannually? How does the advisor handle contact in unusual situations? You should know how often, at minimum, you should expect to hear from your advisor, and you should actually hear from your advisor more often than that, without them being a pest.
If your advisor seems to fall off the planet and you are not getting regular periodic contact from your advisor, it may be time to consider finding a new advisor.
The Bottom Line
As a client working with an advisor, it is essential that your needs are being met. Your financial situation and future are important, and you should have peace of mind when it comes to your own finances.
If it is time to consider changing financial advisors, don’t be afraid to do so. There are many highly competent financial advisors out there. Many are a pleasure to work with and do a great job for their clients. Don’t rush. Take your time shopping around, seek recommendations, and interview enough potential advisors until you are satisfied you have found the right fit to embark on a positive relationship.
You deserve to have a positive relationship with your advisor that meets your needs, and it is important to prioritize those needs in any professional relationship. Don't feel obligated or responsible to stick with an advisor who isn’t meeting your needs. You have the power, and changing financial advisors to find one who truly understands and supports your financial goals might be necessary. Put your needs first, that’s what is most important in a professional relationship.