Whether you want to hire a personal trainer, financial advisor, or business coach, you should look for a few key characteristics.
You will likely be able to spot these traits because they resemble those you look for in choosing friends.
1. Authenticity: Most of us look for friends who are sincere and don’t try to be someone they are not. Similarly, you want to work with an advisor who is genuine and qualified. No matter who recommends an advisor, you should still take the time to research their credentials. Experience and expertise add depth to the recommendations you will receive from your advisor.
2. Listening: A true friend is someone who listens to your vulnerabilities, hopes, fears and aspirations. An advisor … like a friend … should listen to what is on your mind, pinpoint the values you hold most dear, and understand your perspective before rushing into an action plan. They should also remain interested and attentive long after they have made their recommendations.
3. Loyalty: Loyalty is the cornerstone of a solid friendship. Being a loyal friend means you look out for one another. You know what is going on in your friends’ lives, and share items of interest. A good advisor will do the same. An advisor should introduce opportunities that could bring you closer to your goals. They should also remain loyal in their service of you.
4. Straightforward: A friend who gives direct, honest and straightforward feedback is a keeper. Likewise, a good advisor can broach sensitive subjects and give honest feedback tactfully. Your expectations of the advisor should be clear, and you should know how and when you will have to pay for services.
5. Dependability: You want to know that your friends will be there for you when you need them. The same should be true of your advisor. advisors should make themselves accessible, and respond to your inquiries in a timely fashion. Studies show that people tolerate poor investment performance longer than they tolerate a financial advisor who doesn’t respond to their inquiries.
6. Honesty: One of the things that we rely upon our friends to provide is the truth. A good friend should always be honest with you, even if it isn’t always comfortable. They do not just tell you what you WANT to hear, but what they believe will help you in the long run because they care. By the same token, a good advisor keeps you in check. They will let you know when you’ve strayed from the path that leads to your goal and does not just agree with everything you say.
7. Respect: Someone who tells your secrets doesn’t stay your friend for long. You should expect your advisor to maintain strict confidentiality. If he or she tells you about other clients, then you can expect your issues are fodder for cocktail talk as well. You should be comfortable in voicing your opinions and sharing your vulnerabilities.
Before you embark on a search for an advisor, think about these and other traits you look for in your friends. When you meet with prospective advisors, ask about the systems and processes they have in place to support these values. For example, how do they keep your records safe and secure? Do they have a process-driven system for getting to know your and what is important to you that is deeper than just a paper questionnaire?
At United Capital, we pride ourselves on using distinctive systems and processes to reinforce those values people hold dearest in their advisory relationships. The exercises utilized will help tip you off to troubling behaviors, and help you focus on the characteristics you value the most.
United Capital Financial Advisers, LLC (“United Capital”), is an affiliate of Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and subsidiaries of the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., a worldwide, full-service investment banking, broker-dealer, asset management and financial services organization. Investing involves risk and clients should carefully consider their own investment objectives and never rely on any single chart, graph or marketing piece to make decisions.
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