As a Michigander, I know what’s good about living in this great state. The natural beauty, the vibrant towns and cities, the great sports teams, the even greater people, and it’s a relatively cheap place to live.
But even in a state with a modest cost of living, you have to be vigilant in making the right financial decisions to achieve your personal financial goals.
So, if you’re a fellow Michigander, where do you turn for financial help? Do you even need help?
As a financial adviser, I also know the value of financial advice. Heck, even I have my own financial adviser. And, I had assumed most people did, too.
However, to my surprise a recent survey from Northwestern Mutual found that a majority of Americans are not working with a financial adviser. It turns out that 68% of U.S. adults do not receive professional financial advice. That’s the equivalent of 6.7 million people without a financial adviser in Michigan alone.
The survey also found that 45% don’t know where to turn for financial help.
Even more surprising is that many people likely get insufficient advice. Only 41% of those with a financial adviser say they receive tailored attention. By my math, that means less than 14% of us get professional financial advice that pertains directly to our own lives.
Below are tips on how to find a trustworthy and attentive financial adviser in Michigan.
Certainly, the profession is not as self-explanatory as a teacher, police officer or nurse. If I had to sum it up: a good financial adviser will help you be more successful in almost every area of your finances. This likely hinges in part on savings and investments, but that’s not the whole picture.
Often I hear people say something to the effect of: “I don’t have a million dollars so I can’t work with an advisor.” I take issue with that for two reasons. First, everyone deserves solid advice no matter what their financial circumstances. After all, do only geniuses attend school?
Second, a reason some people don’t have a million dollars (or whatever amount they need for their goals) is that they’re not working with a professional. Do you only go see a doctor if you’re healthy?
There are real tangible benefits to having a financial adviser:
An adviser can add up to 3% in net portfolio returns for you by helping to implement comprehensive wealth management strategies (Vanguard).
How to find a financial adviser in Michigan
So if you now have a little better understanding of what an advisor does and why you need one, how do you find one that will give you tailored advice that encompasses your entire financial life?
Of course, you can search online and find thousands of advisers throughout the state of Michigan. The question is, who you can trust?
First, ask many trusted people, such as friends or family, for recommendations on who they use. Ask them why they like their adviser.
If you do blindly search for an adviser, be sure to check their history through BrokerCheck, a free background service provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
Your homework begins when you meet with the potential adviser. Ask lots of questions. I suspect that many of those that fail to find good advice are not asking enough questions. Ask about services provided, their costs, the type of clients they work with, their areas of expertise and how they keep in touch with their clients.
Take note of how much they want to know about you. If an adviser spends the entire time talking about themselves, then you might not end up with the tailored advice and good communication you need.
Finally, an adviser should also be eagerly transparent. Not only in how they are compensated, for example, but with information on what they recommend.
The same Northwestern survey above showed that only 56% say their advisor helps them understand their complete financial picture. That’s a major problem.
Working with an adviser should not be like working with an appliance salesman. No offense to the hardworking, knowledgeable salesmen out there, but if all goes well, you hopefully won’t see that person again for at least a decade. An adviser, on the other hand, should explain how everything works until you understand it, and then the adviser should keep in regular contact with you as your life continues to progress and evolve.
If that doesn’t happen with your adviser, you have a salesman.
As a financial adviser, Sean works closely with his clients to create and implement an appropriate financial plan. He provides a wide range of services, including investment portfolio and 401(k) advice as well as retirement planning and tax planning.