The market is down>. Your portfolio has taken a beating. Is it time to fire your financial planner?
That s certainly one option, otherwise known as the kill-the-messenger problem, says Eleanor Blayney, the consumer advocate for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. But a better choice is to build a good relationship with your planner and communicate expectations so he understands what you want and that you feel action is being taken to repair the damage.
Here are some tips on how to go about it.
Know What You re Getting Into
Working with a financial planner on an ongoing basis can be expensive, so start with a reality check, says Michael Herndon, the AARP s manager of financial security. You may just need to work with a specialist on a single issue, or sit down for one session with a planner to make sure you re on track to meet your goals, he says.
If you ve decided to work with a financial planner, start with the basics: Find out how the professional is licensed, check that they re in good standing, and ask how they re compensated so you re aware of any potential conflicts of interest. Certified financial planners (CFPs) and members of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) are ethically bound to operate on a fiduciary standard, meaning they have promised to do what s in your best interest.
Ideally, you should be your financial planner s typical client in terms of assets and overall financial situation. You want to know that the planner deals with your kinds of issues frequently, Blayney says. Some advisors will specialize in a niche, working only with doctors, or divorced women, or small business owners, says Bill Baldwin, the president of Pillar Financial Advisors and the chairman of the board of NAPFA. It s best to approach people you trust for recommendations, Herndon says. Because fraudsters often target a small community, like a church or specific ethnic group, be wary of unsolicited recommendations, he says.
Once you ve selected a planner you feel comfortable with, set up some ground rules. Ask how often you can expect to meet with and hear from your financial planner, Blayney says. A lack of clear expectations on how and how often to communicate is fertile ground for disappointment, she says.
Know When to Fire Your Planner
Of course, your financial planner can t prevent events like the stock market crash in 2008. But during a frightening time, a good advisor will communicate with clients to make sure they understand how they re responding to the crisis, Baldwin says.
If you ve worked with a planner for a while and you ve started to feel like things aren t going well, it may be worth having a meeting to talk about your expectations, Baldwin says. But keep in mind that this is a professional relationship, and you shouldn t hesitate to fire your financial advisor if you re not happy, Herndon says. It blows me away to think there are people who are worried about insulting the person they re paying to do something, he says.
Know When Your Planner Might Fire You
Financial planners are people, too, and they like to feel valued. Some advisors will get rid of clients who never seem appreciative, Baldwin says. Some will dump clients who are rude to their staff or take up a disproportionate amount of the advisor s time, Blayney says.
On a more practical level, advisors will sometimes fire clients when their advice is ignored or discarded, Blayney says. Both Blayney and Baldwin say that advisors might also dump clients who fail to show up for scheduled meetings or show up without necessary information or documents.
These relationships can end on good terms. Blayney says she worked with a client who had hired her primarily to manage a portfolio set up to support the client s children, and eventually those accounts dwindled enough that paying a financial advisor was no longer a sound financial decision. It s not a Donald Trump moment, Blayney says. When I feel that this is no longer a good expenditure for my client, I have to say so.