A financial planner shares 3 ways to get the most out of your advisor

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  • No matter how your financial planner bills you, every client deserves exceptional service. However, there are things a client can do to get the most out of their finance professional.
  • Asking questions and staying engaged in the financial planning process are two important ways to get the most out of your planner and grow your money.
  • Being transparent and open about your relationship with money and your financial reality also helps your planner offer you the best advice.
  • SmartAsset’s free tool can find a financial planner to help you take control of your money »

Depending on the compensation structure, there are several ways for a client to make payments to a financial planner. Regardless of the service model, however, customers deserve and should expect exceptional value.

It is certainly a planner’s responsibility to serve their clients, but the client can also take certain actions, which can help ensure success.

Here are three ways clients can get the most out of their financial planner.

To ask questions

One of my firm’s goals is for every client to gain a better understanding of money and truly understand the impact of the decisions they make on their financial lives in the future. I encourage clients to continually ask questions throughout a financial planning relationship.

Yes, the planner gets paid for their expertise and ability to handle issues, but it’s equally important for a client to understand why specific recommendations are being made. Additionally, the types of questions asked can reveal to your planner what is truly valuable or of most concern, which should always be the main focus.

These opportunities to provide answers benefit both parties in the relationship. Customers are better informed and feel valued because their voice has been heard. Planners continue to gain confidence and sharpen their own financial planning skills. As a result, everyone was empowered.

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Stay engaged in the process

Often clients engage in the financial planning process and are very responsive at the start of a relationship, which brings them a lot of benefits. The key is to continue this strong commitment throughout the time spent working together, which could potentially last for many years.

Typically, planners maintain some type of service/communication schedule for their clients, but ultimately it’s the client’s individual decision as to what contact is valuable to them and what they wants to do.

Be transparent

For various reasons, it can be very difficult for a client to share all aspects of their financial life. Some customers may feel embarrassed, while others may have problems trusting anyone else. Because of these potential barriers, planners must take responsibility for creating an effective communication environment. Once a client feels comfortable sharing, they need to be open about what is really going on with their financial situation and changes in their life.

Sometimes clients may just answer their planner’s questions, but not divulge exactly why they are doing certain things or have specific goals. Knowing the stories and reasons behind a customer’s responses allows planners to serve them better.

Take this example. John has received a $500,000 court settlement and wants to use it to fund his retirement, which is at least 20 years away. He hires Larry to specifically help him create an investment portfolio and manage those assets going forward.

Given the time horizon to retirement, Larry’s recommendation is aggressive asset allocation. John openly shares a story about his childhood with Larry. He explains that his father didn’t have favorable experiences with the planners, which created a level of fear in John. Taking this into account, Larry changes his investment recommendation to a less risky one. He and John agree that a moderately aggressive allocation would be a much better option.

Martin A. Scott, CFP, is the founder and financial planner of Lasting Wealth Principles, a fee-based comprehensive financial planning company.

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