As a wealth manager for over 20 years, I see millennials miss 3 key things when searching for a financial advisor

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  • Professional credentials come first when looking for a financial planner, but millennials should also be looking for someone with a good network, and a succession plan.
  • Sandi Bragar, CFP, partner and managing director in planning strategy and research at Aspiriant, found that no matter how diligent millennials are in their research and interview questions, they often forget these three key things.
  • These factors will help you get to know your advisor better and set you up for a long lasting professional relationship.

Over the last two decades, I've been in hundreds of meetings with prospective clients. In recent years, more and more of these meetings have been with millennials who are looking for professional help managing their money to meet expanding financial goals. While some may be prepared with a smart list of interview questions, I've noticed that there are three important areas they often overlook in the due-diligence process.

Feeling a connection

The relationships people have with their wealth managers can be very special. In fact, the connection I have with my clients is the driving reason why I love my career. I continually have deeply personal discussions with clients about their values, hopes, dreams, and concerns.Advertisement

Often, client money conversations range from work to family to community, and I'm humbled to know I'm one of the only people with whom they share these important personal and financial details of their life!

Knowing the advisor's succession plan

What if something happens (death, career move, retirement) that prevents the advisor from working with you for as long as you hoped? Find out upfront what plans the advisor has in place for clients if they can no longer personally serve you.

Transitioning to a financial advisor takes a lot of upfront time and effort. You don't want to risk repeating that process again if the advisor's succession plan doesn't fit your needs, or stepping into the chaos that ensues if the advisor failed to put a plan in place.
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A client I now serve came to us in panicked tears when her former advisor, a sole proprietor, died. In addition to her grief about the death, she was angry and disappointed that no one in his family had access to his files and systems which housed her important documents and personal details.

Asking about their network

Look for an advisor who has a vast network of multi-disciplinary professionals including mortgage lenders, attorneys (estate, family law, etc.), tax preparers, insurance brokers, and more. The advisor should not only know them but have reliable working relationships with these professionals that you can leverage. This will help make your financial life more effective and efficient. The most popular referral I make is to a health insurance broker who is an experienced partner in helping clients choose plans that best serve their health needs and financial circumstances.Advertisement

Choosing an advisor should be a life-enhancing endeavor. Learning about the advisor's investment philosophy, tech stack, and fees is extremely important. But don't stop there.

When scoping out an advisor, pay close attention to who's talking more — them or you? Are they really hearing what you're saying? Do they "get you" for who you are, where you're at in your financial life, and where you want to go? Do you feel connection and rapport? Will they be ready to serve you proactively and have your back when you need them?

If this is a good match, the relationship should serve you well for decades.Advertisement

The article was contributed by Sandi Bragar, CFP, partner and managing director in planning strategy and research at Aspiriant.

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