In this series, we are going to cover the top four ways that advisors market their practice. As with any business they are trying to get more of the right kind of clients attracted to their product. Their product is themselves and their ability to design a plan to best meet the client’s goals. As with any industry, there are right and wrong ways to achieve this. Hopefully, this can give you an idea of what to look for or guard against when choosing an investment or retirement advisor.
And remember to ask yourself what are YOU trying to achieve by interviewing and choosing an advisor? Remember the analogy of the doctor. You see specialists in medicine for the stage of life you are in or for the problems you are encountering. The same is true of financial advisors. Some are focused and trained to help you grow your wealth while you are ages 20-50 and other specialize in helping you retire more safely and securely and pass an inheritance on to your loved ones. Some deal with budget problems, others focus on eliminating risk from your retirement years. Make sure you are looking for the right kind of specialist for the stage of life you are in and the challenges you are attempting to conquer.
In part one of our series, seen here, we discussed the “expertise” of getting published in a magazine or book. Some of these are legitimate and prestigious. Others are ghost-written façade to make it look like the advisor is more of an expert or more knowledgeable in his field.
Another area that advisors attempt to distinguish themselves is through educational designations. Again this is an area where some of these educational designations are elite level courses that test advisors knowledge and experience. One example is a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) designation. This is a Masters level college curriculum that takes time and study to earn. Others require a pen, a check, and a stamp for your envelope to achieve graduate status. So how can you tell the difference? Some are easier to distinguish, CFP, CPA (Certified Public Accountant), CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter), just to name a few.
However, what about the dozens of other acronyms? Two good resources are your state insurance commissioner’s website (here’s a link for every state) and search for “approved designations”. Also here is an investment centric link from FINRA, which supervises securities companies. Another way to get more info is to go to the website of the school that offers the course, here’s one example from a highly reputable university of which I am quite proud.