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Expertise: You should expect an interdisciplinary expert to ask, educate, guide and adapt to your needs. A successful relationship will require you to determine if an advisor has the right kind of expertise to help your financial situation and if the designations they hold will be worthwhile to you.
Stewardship: The awareness of emotions and ability to help clients begin to manage them moves beyond a sales relationship. A steward uses expertise as a tool to achieve a longer-term objective, in many cases preventing actions that are detrimental to long-term success.
Proactive service: If an advisor only talks to you when you call, that isn’t a relationship, it is a loose affiliation. There is no chance to move into the role of a steward without frequent and proactive contact.
Independence: Look for an advisor who provides a more holistic service model with a more manageable cost structure than at most large firms. This allows them to concentrate on fewer clients and avoid the parent company’s products.
A fiduciary obligation: In order to make sure that your needs come first, you should work with someone who is held to a fiduciary standard of care. Unfortunately, many investors don’t know who is and isn’t required to act in their best interest.
Objectivity: To maintain objectivity, advisors have to understand the shortcomings, biases and blind-spots that we all have. They must also reveal their own conflicts of interest.
Value: Will you get enough out of a relationship with an advisor to justify what you pay in fees? It should never be a given that the value in a relationship will come from returns alone.