Last week we talked about the difference between financial coaches and advisors. You’ve decided that you are pretty good with your money, you don’t need a coach, but you want financial advice to meet the goals you have set for yourself.
Financial advisors are not all the same. They can differ in several ways so let’s break this all down starting with different types of advisors:
Captive advisors. These folks work for specific financial institutions or firms and are usually limited to offering products and services from their employer.
- Big Names: Captive advisors often represent well-known financial institutions, which can provide a sense of security.
- Exclusive Products: They might have access to special, in-house financial products and services.
- Limited Choices: Captive advisors are kind of tied to their employer’s offerings, which means fewer options for you.
- Potential for Bias: They might be incentivized to push their employer’s products, even if they’re not the best fit.
- Possibly Higher Costs: Some captive advisors might charge more in fees or commissions compared to independent advisors or financial coaches.
Independent advisors. These folks work for themselves or with independent advisory firms. They offer a broad range of financial services and have the freedom to pick and choose from various providers. Here’s the scoop:
- No Strings Attached: Independent advisors can recommend what’s best for you without the constraints of the parent company.
- Choices Galore: They have access to a wide array of financial products and services, increasing your chances of finding the right solutions.
- Potential for Conflicts: Some independent advisors may still have ties to specific financial institutions, so keep an eye out for any biases regardless of who you work with.
- Fee Variability: Costs can vary widely among independent advisors, so make sure you understand their fee structure.
A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) has a college degree, has completed CFP training, exams, and has hands-on experience. CFPs look at everything in your financial life – your income, spending, investments, taxes, insurance, etc. (Other advisors may or may not do this.) Then, they work their magic to create a custom plan to help you reach your financial dreams.
- They’re Knowledgeable: CFPs are like financial gurus, so you’re getting advice from someone who really knows their stuff.
- They See the Big Picture: These folks take a 360-degree view of your money and provide all-around solutions to make your financial life better.
- They Play Fair: CFPs have a strict code of ethics and must act in your best interest, which means less funny business with your money.
- It Costs Money: CFPs don’t work for free; they charge fees, which can vary based on your financial situation.
- They’re Not Necessarily Investment Wizards: While they can help with investments, they might not be as specialized as investment pros.
- Quality May Vary: Not all CFPs are created equal, so you’ll want to do some homework to find the right one for you.
Investment Advisor / Investment Advisor Representative
An Investment Advisor Representative (IAR) is like your financial GPS, helping you navigate the world of investments. They’re the experts who guide you on where to put your money based on your goals and risk tolerance. To become an IAR, they need to pass certain exams and register with regulatory authorities.
- Expertise: IARs are trained and knowledgeable about investments, making sure your money is in good hands.
- Personalized Advice: They tailor their investment advice to your unique financial situation and goals, helping you make informed decisions.
- Fiduciary Duty: IARs have a legal obligation to act in your best interest, which means they put your financial well-being first.
- Costs: IARs often charge fees, which can eat into your investment returns.
- Quality Varies: Like any profession, not all IARs are equally skilled or trustworthy, so it’s crucial to do your research and choose wisely.
I suggest you meet with a few advisors and see who fits you best. We will talk about how financial advisors are paid and questions to ask in our next post so make sure you subscribe below so you don’t miss it!