Trust means everything in a relationship. It is especially relevant when it comes to finances. You wouldn’t stay with a partner who takes advantage of you and your finances, right? You shouldn’t stay with an advisor who treats you the same way either.

Financial matters can be as emotionally draining, destructive, and costly as anything else that we experience in our other relationships. An unscrupulous financial advisor can cause an unsuspecting client to be badly hurt or even completely wiped out of a lifetime of hard work and savings.

So, how do you know who to trust? How can you separate the quality catch from the Catfish?

When having initial conversations with potential advisors, look for the following things:

Core Values
A person with integrity will do the right thing even when no one is watching. If an advisor is constantly pushing the hard sell, or is completely ignoring your goals, their values are probably not aligned with yours. Look for an advisor who believes in having a long-term relationship with their clients and acknowledges their fiduciary responsibilities to them.

      Expertise
      I cannot stress the importance of your advisor’s training, education, and qualifications enough. If you’re speaking to someone at a financial institution or professional advisory firm, you can almost guarantee that their employer has done due diligence for you. For your own peace of mind, feel free to ask them yourself! Not every advisor took the same route to their career but, if they are transparent about their path, you will be in good hands.

      Service
      It’s all about service. Remember, your relationship with your advisor is a long-term one; they should take notes, actively listen to you, and provide realistic solutions. You should leave feeling seen and heard with a plan and a follow-up date. You should never feel like the service is lacking or that they didn’t try to get to know your needs. Trustworthy advisors should provide consistent, quality service. Not pull a bait and switch after you sign on the dotted line.

      Patience
      Your advisor should have the patience to explain everything to you in a way that you will understand without talking down to you or making you feel inferior or rushed. One of the biggest red flags is if your advisor isn’t able or willing to explain how your funds are being managed when you ask about it. You should be very leery of someone who takes custody of your assets and then makes it all so confusing that you don’t understand what they are doing with them. Patience and understanding is one of the hallmarks of an excellent advisor.

      Approach
      Look for an advisor whose approach aligns with everything in the previous four points. You should feel comfortable speaking to them about your finances and you should be confident that they have your best interests at heart, regardless of their bottom line.

      Did They Ask You Open Questions?
      Advisors do this because it’s the easiest way to get their clients to discuss their dreams and goals. Ultimately, an advisor needs to get a clear idea of your values and aspirations as well as your risk profile. These questions can range from a simple “How can I assist you today?” to “How do you make important financial decisions?” or “What do you want your life to look like in the future?” This sort of dialogue is an important part of building the relationship and will often result in a better long-term connection.

        You won’t always gel with your advisor – sometimes the conversations we need to have with you are difficult and can be uncomfortable. At the end of the day, you should have enough confidence in your relationship with your financial advisor to know that, no matter what the weather, they will be there for you and your goals. Be diligent in your search and don’t settle for the proverbial shotgun wedding. There are quality advisors out there. Take your time finding one that you can trust.

        Melanie Gauntlett is Financial Pensions Advisor at Freisenbruch. To learn more, or if you have any questions, please contact her at mgauntlett@fmgroup.bm, or call +1 441 294 4660 or +1 441 296 3600