Member Feedback: GPS 1
"All of the potential advisors were literally shocked to have someone actually interview them"
Feb. 17, 2011
Our member, GPS1, was kind enough to give us detailed feedback on his experience of basing his selection process for a new financial advisor on our research. We are glad he found our guides helpful. What follows is his own account of how he found the right advisor for his needs.
"Last year we decided to change financial advisors (again) and were fortunate to find the article “Choosing the Right Wealth Manager” by Steffen Binder. This would be our third manager in five years and we were at a loss as to how to find the right fit for our situation and for the long term. This article came at a perfect time and it made so much sense that we committed to following the advice step-by-step.
In total we met with six different firms and in several cases multiple advisors within those firms over a two month period. We made our firm selections through referrals, one from the ratings on your website and others from local research and our previous business contacts.
From there the process started by calling each firm to make an appointment. We asked to speak with a partner in the smaller firms or an area manager in the larger firms, so we did not end up meeting with someone due to “luck of the telephone draw”. On that first phone call we gave a brief description of our financial situation, explained our issues with the previous two firms and asked them to setup interviews with advisors that had a minimum of 10 years experience, and who based on the brief information provided, they thought would be a good fit for us. Using many of the questions from the appendix of the paper, we had a tool to gauge their competency as an advisor. This also created enough dialog to determine their personality type and to evaluate their communication skills.
By the third interview it became very clear this process was working. As a side note, all of the potential advisors were literally shocked to have someone actually interview them. They each further stated that they wished all new clients would follow this type of interview process. After the interviews and follow up phone calls to the six firms and a total of 10 advisors, the final decision for us came down to three key areas: the advisor’s background (education and training), their communication skills and their business model-fees.
The top two candidates both had economics degrees and both are CFAs. We did not realize how important this would be to us until the interview process. We really liked knowing that the advisor had this in their blood so to speak, through their initial and ongoing education. The business models were all over the board from advisors who only use managers, to the team approach and the advisors who pick everything themselves.
The advisor we chose specializes in clients at our age / wealth range, and has the resources of a large firm when needed (beyond his expertise in a given area) but is very capable of developing strategy and analyzing options on his own. He also communicates with us in a way we are comfortable with and takes the time to make sure that we understand what the investment is that he is suggesting to buy or sell and why. Lastly we really did not understand how variable the rates are for these services, that those rates are negotiable, and the lengths that some firms actually go to so that the calculations of those rates are almost impossible to understand. By following the advice in this article we were able to save thousands of dollars each year and clearly understand what and how we are charged."