Choosing a Financial Partner

This is a guest post by Kelley C. Long.  She is a a nationally sought-after personal finance expert.  You can find and follow her on her KCL Money Coach website or at @kclmoneycoach on Twitter.

Even though statistics shows that 90 percent of women will be financially independent at some point in their adult lives, the issue of ensuring long-term financial security often takes a backseat to other priorities. As women, we all know that we SHOULD know more about the stock market, investing, banking and other financial terms, but we are too busy with our families, careers, friends and staying healthy to take the time to learn. Plus, many of us find the subject matter boring and overly technical. 

Choosing a Partner

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With more women becoming financially independent because of careers, divorce, widowhood or the single life, it has become increasingly important that women not only find a trustworthy financial advisor or coach, but also develop a baseline of knowledge to aid them in ensuring that the advice they are given is most appropriate for them. Just how do you find that person who will help you gain that knowledge? Below are a few of the criteria and some tips on making your choice. 


How to Choose

The No. 1 non-negotiable factor in choosing a financial partner is trust. Referrals from close friends and family can aid in this factor, but it is important that you feel right about the choice too. This person has the potential to make or break your long-term financial success. If you don't feel 100 percent comfortable that you can trust her, do not hire her. 

Communication is a close second when selecting your adviser. She should speak to you in terms that you understand, and you must feel comfortable asking questions when you are confused. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to your money. Your advisor should not make you feel embarrassed or uneducated when you ask questions, no matter how basic. It is to her advantage that you are knowledgeable about money as you will be better equipped to communicate your goals and concerns to her through the years. 

Another factor that is of particular importance, especially to women, is a personal connection. A great advisor will take time to get to know you beyond your financial status. In order to offer personal and appropriate advice, she should have a fair idea of your values, goals and preferences. If you spend each Saturday seeking bargains on fabulous shoes, she should not be suggesting that you stop buying shoes cold turkey. A better approach would be to assist you with trimming your expenses in other areas that are less important to you so that you can continue to do what you love. Just like dieting, saving money long-term does not work when we completely cut out things that bring us pleasure and satisfaction. 

Finally, it is important to determine how your prospective advisor is paid. Financial advisors that work for insurance companies, brokerage houses, asset advisory firms and banks typically require that you open an account with them in order to work with you, and their fee is tied to the amount of money you invest with them. Financial coaches, planners and certified public accountants (CPA's) employed by accounting firms or other planning firms are more likely to charge by the hour and won't take custody of your investments. You may also find a coach that offers a package for a flat fee. Each method has pros and cons, so how you pay your coach depends mostly on the type of service you are seeking. 

Above all, if you find a financial professional that you think understands your goals and dreams and has your best interests in mind no matter what, then you've found your perfect match. Happy saving! 


Question:  What do you look for in a financial advisor?   

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