What to Look for In a Financial Advisor

Between independent financial advisors, those working within banks and credit unions, and advisors in the many different investment firms in the financial landscape, it can be difficult for the average investor to choose an advisor that is appropriate for them. Not only is it a matter of skills and knowledge but, just like a doctor, an advisor’s proverbial bedside manner is just as important.

If personalities don’t mesh well and you find it difficult to have open and frank conversations with an advisor, it’s your financial strategies and goals that will suffer most. Therefore, using a handful of easy tips can help you find an advisor that works in your best interest as well as with your personality.

Background Checks

A sense of trust is critical in getting the most from your relationship with a financial advisor. While, in a perfect world, you would be able to take any advisor’s word about their past at face value, this is not a perfect world. Therefore, in order to protect the best interests of investors, both FINRA and the SEC have invaluable broker check websites that allow you to research the professional background of any registered advisor.

On each of the sites, you will be able to find any past complaints waged against an advisor, see a list of the different firms they have worked for as well as the time spent at each, and in some cases even read about their educational background. When choosing between multiple advisors, these background checks can serve as an extremely insightful source of information to help you make the best decision.

Personality Counts

No matter what a coworker, trusted friend, or your neighbor might say, not every advisor is well-suited to your specific needs. In other words, just because someone you trust has found their relationship with a particular advisor thoroughly productive and beneficial doesn’t mean that advisor will work well with you.

When choosing between advisors, don’t discount how fluid and comfortable those initial conversations might be. Efficient and effective communication between you and an advisor is paramount to establishing sound financial strategies that can help you reach your goals. If conversation is forced and you find yourself even a bit on the defensive side, chances are you’re better off working with a different financial professional.

Trust Your Financial Institution

If you already work with a bank or credit union that you feel comfortable with, beginning your search with one of their in-house financial advisors is a good place to start. Your institution has already thoroughly vetted each advisor and – particularly those that have been with the institution for a number of years – chances are they work well with the existing customer base.


About Jeremy

Jeremy Wallace is founder and chief investment officer at Wallace Hart Capital Management, an independent financial services firm committed to offering comprehensive advice and customized services. Jeremy has 20 years of experience in the financial industry and is passionate about helping clients preserve and enhance their wealth so they can pursue their passions. Jeremy graduated from Emory University with a degree in international economics and a certificate in financial planning. Outside of the office, Jeremy spends most of his free time with his wife, Julie, and their three children, Isabel, Lincoln, and Reid. He is an avid Chicago Cubs baseball fan, and  he enjoys golfing with his wife and traveling with his family. Learn more about Jeremy by connecting with him on LinkedIn.