What Working with a Financial Advisor Should Be Like

It might feel strange letting someone else poke into your personal financial affairs, but working with a financial advisor could turn out to be the way you’ll finally get to the place you want to be.  After the initial “newness” of working with one, here’s what it should feel like when working with a good financial advisor.

You shouldn’t feel shy or embarrassed about sharing your financials with a professional.

Your financial world might be a mess, there might be no sense of direction to it, or your financial status might simply be so closely tied to emotional issues that you can’t seem to move ahead in any direction at all.

But whatever reason you might have for feeling shy about letting someone into your financial life, it’s probably going to be worth your while to get over it.  You should know that your financial advisor will probably turn out to be your most trusted ally when it comes to achieving your goals and realizing your dreams.

Financial advisors are for giving advice, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be good listeners, too.

The funny thing about financial plans is that even though it might seem on the surface like it’s all about numbers, it’s not, really.

The right plan for you, whether you’re saving for a home, paying off debt, navigating the world of investing, or smartly handling an inheritance, depends on your personality and many other “soft” factors that have very little to do with numbers.

Working with a good financial advisor means you have someone who listens carefully to your feelings about money, saving, investing, and to your financial goals and dreams.  He or she shouldn’t put you in a place where you feel uncomfortable with your financial plan.

All your financial moves should feel right- and if they don’t, you should feel comfortable asking questions so you understand why those choices were made.  Financial advising requires people skills as much as it does financial savvy, so make sure the person you choose to guide your decisions is someone you feel absolutely comfortable with at all times.

You should never feel as if you were being pitched to.

Some financial advisors act more like salespeople than advisors. That may be because they are commission-based, meaning they make their money when they can successfully steer you and other clients towards specific products in which they have a stake.

There should never be a sales-ey quality to your conversations with a personal financial advisor, so let that be a warning.

Above all, you should feel trust when you work with your financial advisor.  You’re trusting him or her with your future, so check references, look for expertise, and above all, find someone with whom you can comfortably and clearly communicate.


Christopher Girbes-Pierce

Christopher Girbés-Pierce CFP® is the Founder of Enlightened Wealth Management, a fee-only wealth management firm located in Santa Monica, CA. EWM specializes in providing comprehensive financial life planning services for clients who wish to align their financial resources with their goals and values.

Christopher and I became friends through NAPFA and I asked him to write some thoughts on what working with a financial advisor should be like as a guest topic for this