Why Choose an Independent Local Agent

When it comes to trusting someone with your hard-earned money, you want to know you’ve chosen a reliable, ethical financial agent who is acting in your best interests. In today’s uncertain economy, you need to feel confident that your family will be provided for in the future. Or, you’d like to look forward to enjoying a pleasant retirement without financial worries. Whatever your reasons for seeking a financial advisor, you should know some facts about choosing an independent local agent before making a final decision.

What is a fiduciary?

A fiduciary will manage the financial assets of another party with the legal and ethical obligation of putting the client’s best interest first. For a financial advisor, they will guide the client and help them make the best financial decisions, reorganizing investments and managing assets. It should be made clear that not all financial advisors are fiduciaries. Be sure to ask your financial advisor about their credentials and certifications.
It is important to note, in your search for a financial advisor, it’s easy to be misled by brokerage firms that use the term “independent.” Many of these firms are owned by large insurance companies or other product providers that place strict limitations on the agent’s recommendations to their client.

So, how can you know for sure that your agent is independent, qualified, and a registered financial consultant? You may first check to see if they are a member of the National Society of Financial Educators. This nation-wide network of finance instructors offers courses and advice drawing from the educators’ knowledge, experiences, and careers in personal finance. They utilize personal or real-life experiences in order to make for a more interactive and relatable education and better prepare you for your financial future.

Next, you need to know if an agent is a Registered Financial Consultant (RFC) or Registered Investment Advisor (RIA).

An RFC will have official recognition by the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants and will have had at least four years experience as a financial planning practitioner.
Alternatively, an RIA will manage the assets and investments of high net-worth clients and must be registered with the practicing state.

Finding an Advisor Who Cares About You

The best independent financial advisor is the one who is experienced, competent, knowledgeable and most of all, one who cares about you. Finding an advisor that practices as a fiduciary can eliminate some of the potential conflicts of interest. Some of the other things to look for include:

  • Does the agent take a thoughtful approach to investing or do they use an automated program?
  • Do they do actual planning or just concern themselves with selling product?
  • Is tax-planning incorporated into their advice?
  • Do they have an understanding of Social Security claiming strategies?
  • Do they understand the difference between investing for accumulation versus investing in the retirement distribution phase of your life?

What do I need to know about a financial advisor near me? There are several questions you should ask a potential advisor:

  • What experience do they have?
  • What are their qualifications?
  • What financial planning services are they offering?
  • What is their approach to your financial plan?
  • What type of clients do they typically work with?
  • How do they charge for their services?
  • Have they ever been disciplined for unlawful or unethical actions?
  • Does anyone else benefit from the advice and fees?

If you would like more information about our investment advising services, please contact us today. We will be happy to answer your questions. In Prescott, we have been providing objective financial planning since 2000, and we look forward to developing a plan for you.