So, what exactly is a Financial Advisor?
Today, I’m here to shed light on the term Financial Advisor and perhaps convince you to seek out a generalist advisor as your first stop on your financial journey.
Since joining this industry two years ago, the question of “what do you do?” has dogged me. Not because I don’t enjoy what I do, but rather because the most commonly utilized term for what I do is “financial advisor” and that is a woefully generic title to say the least.
So let me ask you – Do you know what a Financial Advisor does?
Me either. That’s because there isn’t one truly accepted definition or standard that really requires a certain level of training or end deliverables to a client.
If you meet someone and they tell you they are a “financial advisor” what they actually do for their clients is still a total mystery. They could spend their days picking individual stocks, doing tax analysis, creating financial plans, or even selling life insurance. More than likely, you probably think it doesn’t really matter. “Aren’t they all the same?” is a refrain I’ve heard a time or two. Let me share with you why I believe this distinction is critical.
To get there, let’s use a more relatable example – Doctors.
To start, let’s agree that the term Doctor is very generic. After all, a PhD educated person is Doctor, so is a dentist, a psychiatrist, and a surgeon. So let’s assume you have a medical need for yourself – a lump in your knee. You aren’t a medical expert but I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t open a Google search and look for Cardiac Surgeons nearby to help you with your problem. No, you would probably contact your primary care provider and start with their diagnosis and advice. After all, that is one of their primary functions – to help refer you to the right expert if the situation requires it.
Furthermore, you certainly wouldn’t have your next door neighbor who is a “doctor” diagnose your lump without first making sure they are qualified and educated to truly help you.
So why on Earth would you approach your finances this way?
I’ve seen it countless times, whether they are friends or new clients. Individuals who are seeking holistic help with their finances (e.g. college/retirement planning, investment management, insurance needs, etc.) only to end up with a specialist in insurance or taxes that, “does the planning on the side.”
So my question for you today is what exactly are you seeking in your “financial advisor” – a holistic planner to help coordinate and advise on your situation or a specialist for one tactical piece of your finances?
My recommendation – Seek out your holistic advisor first and let them leverage their network of experts to help you.