Water Cooler Wednesday: How Do You Pick The Right Financial Advisor?

Steve Fenyves

Steve Fenyves

We asked Boca Financial Advisor Steve Fenyves to help our readers pick a financial advisor. As tax season comes to a head, we thought it would be a good time to seek advice on this important subject.

By Steve Fenyves

The question that is the title of this article is actually not a great question. It doesn’t go far enough. The question should be, “How do I choose the right financial advisor for me?


 Each of us have different needs both financially and in what we want from the person who we are going to entrust with such a huge responsibility.


There are many different types of financial advisors. Many have different specialties, so first decide what you need from them.


 Are you looking for someone to pick a few mutual funds for you? Do you want someone who specializes in life insurance or annuities? Do you need an overall financial plan or one to help you reach retirement? Are you already retired and want someone to help ensure that your money will last your lifetime? Is it your goal to maximize what you leave to your heirs?


Once you decide what it is you want you can begin to narrow down the type of financial advisor you want. Keep in mind that financial advisors are people too, and everyone has their own agenda. I don’t mean this as a bad thing. It’s just a fact. If you go to a surgeon, he or she will give you the surgical solution to a problem. They generally will not recommend a treatment plan that involves diet and exercise…it’s not what they do! Be sure to pick a financial advisor with the skills that match your needs.


If you have a portfolio of stocks, bonds and mutual funds, a professional specializing in insurance may not be the right advisor for you. If your concerns are limited to life insurance and annuities, then that same professional might be a good fit.

  One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to remain objective. You don’t necessarily want the advisor who is the best salesman, the prettiest or the one who tells you how smart you are.

 Ask him about his education. Does she have any professional designations? Is she a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) or a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)? These are two of the more recognized and meaningful designations. There are many other designations that don’t necessarily have such strict educational and ethical requirements, so do your homework or just stick with either a CFP® or a ChFC.

 It can also be a good idea to ask your friends, relatives or your CPA if they can recommend someone who might fit your needs. If you do get a referral, call them and set up an appointment. It may not be important to you for the advisor to be local, but keep in mind that as you age, it might become more important to have someone to sit down with face to face and go through your finances.

 Don’t be afraid to ask questions, such as:

 How do you get paid? Commissions? Fees? A combination of the two?

  • Will I be working with you or someone else on your staff?
  • What does your “typical” client look like? Am I a good fit for your practice?
  • How often would we meet?
  • If the advisor is recommending an annuity, ask, “How does this annuity fit in to my overall plan?”  Since annuities generally tie your money up for at least several years, you need to be sure that you will have enough other money available if an emergency arises.
  • If you’re retired and drawing money throughout the year, you can ask them“What training do you have in income distribution planning?”


After you meet with a potential advisor, ask yourself if they seemed genuinely interested in learning about you and your personal situation or were they mostly talking about themselves to show you how smart they are? This may offer you an important clue as to how the advisor sees his clients.


These are only a few things to consider. In practice, there are good financial advisors who haven’t earned even a single designation. There are also those who have enough designations after their name to complete the whole alphabet-twice, but whose skills are lacking. However, by hiring an advisor who has taken the time and made the commitment to earn a respected designation, you are putting the odds of choosing a competent advisor more in your favor.



Steven Fenyves is a Certified Financial Plannerand the founder of  Valued Wealth Management Inc. in Boca Raton, Florida. He is a registered representative with Securities America, Inc.  Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc. Valued Wealth Management, Inc. and Securities America are unaffiliated. He can be reached at 561-392-4646 or at steven@valuedwealth.com.

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