Understand what you need in your adviser

Here’s the thing about a 20-minute DIY job: it never takes 20 minutes.

Either you don’t have the right tools, or the right skills… or the materials turn out to be too hard, too soft, too big, too small etc.

On the rare occasion, it might take you 20 minutes or less. You might be perfectly suited to it, and have all you need on hand. For most of us – it doesn’t turn out that way.

The same is true for our financial planning. It’s not about relinquishing control, it’s about maintaining a fresh perspective on how you manage your money and making sure it’s being done in the best possible way.

A mentor once said that it’s easy to build a bridge – just pour an excessive amount of cement into the valley where you want to cross. When we think about this ridiculous idea, we realize how important engineers are.

Again – the same applies to accepting the need for a financial adviser, planner or coach. You can spend your money on whatever you want, but is that going to work out well for you? You can choose any risk or investment products you want online, but will those work out well for you?

If your money was cement, and you had to build a bridge to your future self, wouldn’t you want to have plenty of cement to make it across safely without running out of supplies in the first four meters?

A financial adviser will help, but you need to know what kind of adviser will suit you best.

Independent vs tied financial advisors
An independent financial advisor is someone who offers advice on products from multiple service providers. They usually work for themselves or are part of a group of independent financial advisors.

On the other hand, tied financial advisors will only provide advice on products their company offers. They typically have a deeper knowledge of a narrower set of products. There may be convenience or rewards related benefits when dealing with a single provider.

It’s important to identify which type of financial advisor you’re dealing with before signing any contracts with them.

Commission-based vs fee-based rates
Commission-based advisors are paid a commission on the products they sell. They are paid when the investment is made or the insurance policy is taken out and their advice is tightly coupled to the products they sell. However, they don’t charge a fee for meeting you.

Fee-based advisors charge a fee for advising you regardless of whether you purchase a product. There are advisors who operate a hybrid of these two structures and will benefit from both giving advice and selling products.

Fees will have an impact on the value of the investments you make and the insurance premiums you pay. Although they may sound burdensome, they are usually negotiable, so it’s worthwhile having a conversation about.

Don’t wait until you have lots of cement… uh, money.
You don’t need to be wealthy to have a financial advisor – this is a common misconception. You do however need a solid stream of income and a positive commitment towards making your money grow over time.

(Definitions from 22seven)

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