I recently noticed the return of Tommy Lee Jones as the TV pitchman for Ameriprise Financial. Tommy Lee Jones is one of my favorite actors, loved him in the Men in Black movies as well as other such as the Fugitive and No Country for Old Men.
Jones comes across as credible and trustworthy. His closing line “Together for your future” is masterful and powerful.
At the end of the day advertising is about building awareness. I’m assuming and hoping that nobody reading this would actually contact Ameriprise or any other company and say “… sign me up…” based upon a celebrity endorsement. Rather this might prompt you to check out the company or product being advertised. Here are some basic questions to ask both yourself and a perspective advisor for starters:
Ask yourself this before Engaging a Financial Advisor
- What issues are really bothering me?
- I’m worried about retirement.
- I want help managing my investments.
- I need answers to a specific financial question(s).
- I need a comprehensive review of my financial situation including a financial plan with actionable suggestions.
- Having an understanding of the areas in which you are seeking help is a key first step in selecting the right financial advisor.
Questions to Ask a Perspective Financial Advisor/Firm
- What makes you qualified to provide me with advice?
- Do you normally work with clients whose situation is similar to mine?
- How will you determine the right course of action for me?
- What areas of financial planning/financial advice are your specialties?
- Will I be dealing with you or some lower level employee?
Questions Regarding an Advisor’s Compensation and Potential Conflicts of Interest
- How will you be compensated if we work together? Are you willing to disclose all forms of compensation that you will receive?
- Are there any conflicts of interest such as restrictions from your firm or the manner in which you are compensated that would impact the financial products that you might recommend to me?
- Are you compensated via commissions; fees (Fee-Only); or a combination of the two (Fee-Based)?
Choosing the right financial advisor for you and your family is critical. You want to do your best to find someone who is competent, whose compensation method is made clear and is transparent, and who you feel that you can trust. Don’t be afraid to ask direct pointed questions and don’t settle for half-answers.