The Human Interface

Are you an information junkie? In an age of instant communication and 24-hour news, it’s hard not to become seduced by the need to know everything at any second of the day. But such information overload can also cause tremendous confusion and anxiety: Can I trust the source of this information? How does it affect me? What are my priorities? What is important to know, and what’s just background noise?

A good financial advisor understands his client’s values, goals, fears and dreams

The role of a financial advisor is akin to a corporation’s chief financial officer—whose duty it is to sort through this information glut: separating the good from the bad, the valuable from the worthless, the urgent from the superfluous. How? By paying attention to the most important information available: his client’s needs, values and goals. A good financial advisor begins any client relationship not by talking but by listening. He combines dispassionate expertise with a compassionate understanding of his client’s values, goals, fears and dreams—in other words, the important role that money plays in the client’s life.

It is crucial to remember that behind the dollars and cents lies the real worth of financial planning: helping to provide for your family’s future, advancing toward your life goals and leaving time for the things that really matter. While taking on the “heavy lifting” and myriad details of financial planning, an advisor reports to his clients, who always retain final decision-making authority. You are not only in charge; your specific needs are the focus of your advisor’s efforts.

When meeting with a financial advisor-whether it’s for the first time or part of an ongoing relationship, ask yourself the following:

  • Is this person making an effort to understand my values? My goals? My dreams?
  • Is he creating a comprehensive plan designed specifically for my needs and goals?
  • Does he conduct face-to-face reviews on a quarterly basis or a frequency of my choosing?
  • Is this advisor genuinely interested in my well-being?

Only if the answer to all these questions is “yes” can you be sure that you’re getting the most out of the relationship.

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