You’re a woman or LGBTQ+ professional who has been working hard to build a nest egg. You might have invested some savings in one of those retirement date funds. Perhaps you even started a spreadsheet in an attempt to organize your financial life. But there’s still that nagging feeling that you could be doing more with your money.
It’s a new year, and you’re ready to make a change. The good news – Unlike resolutions like “eating better” or “get 6-pack abs,” the burden of getting your financial life in order is something you can offload to a professional. Working with the right person can make all the difference.
So if you’re asking: “When should I hire a financial planner?” and “What do I need to ask to choose the right one for me?,” here are my thoughts:
A few examples when it pays to seek professional help:
- You’re short on time, or you don’t enjoy it: Could you do it yourself? You’re a smart cookie, so I’m sure you could manage. But if you’ve been putting off your financial to-dos season after season, what’s going to make this year different? Hiring professional help means that stuff is actually going to get done and frees up your time to do what you really love.
- You’re going through a life change, or you’ve got some financial complexity: You’re getting married/unmarried, changing careers/starting a business/retiring early, experiencing an equity event, buying/selling a home, or a myriad of other things. A good advisor can identify “what you don’t know that you need to know” and guide you through the experience.
- You feel the need to talk to someone objective and knowledgeable about your money. Money is a sensitive subject. You can’t just ask anyone questions like: “Should I make an investment in XYZ” or “How much is appropriate for me to spend on a house?” And when it comes to money in relationships, nearly three out of four couples say that finances are a regular source of tension. A trusted expert can serve as a sounding board and facilitator that can do wonders for your peace of mind (and peace as a couple).
What a good financial advisor helps you do:
Personal finance isn’t usually rocket science, but the stakes are high. Mistakes can cost you a lot of money, especially as you move up in income and wealth. Good financial planners have tools and processes to dramatically improve your implementation and outcomes. Research from Vanguard
estimates that advisors can add up to, or even beyond 3% in net returns for clients.
I say this all from experience. Back when I was working in corporate tech, I managed my own money. Now, I’m someone who loves personal finance and whose idea of beach reading includes books like “The Intelligent Asset Allocator.”
But even then, there is no substitute for the expertise of a professional who spends their days helping people like you manage their money. As a DIYer, would I have spent my free time reading about the recently passed the Secure Act 2.0 (read more below) which includes a provision that allows folks to receive employer matches in their Roth 401K accounts? Probably not, and I might have missed an opportunity. In fact, I’ve written about what I’ve changed with my own money
since becoming a financial advisor.
The bottom line: If you’re willing to pay for expert advice, and you value the time saved and peace of mind that a trusted advisor can provide, then go for it.
Questions to ask when talking to a financial advisor:
So you’ve decided it’s a “Yes please!” to hiring an advisor. How do you vet and choose the right one? Here are the questions to ask:
Are you a fiduciary? How do you get compensated?
Being a fiduciary means that your advisor is legally required to act in your best interest over their own. Shouldn’t this be a basic requirement of all advisors? You’d be surprised. I would bet that many of the financial services folks you ran into in the past were not fiduciaries.
As for compensation, advisors can charge:
- commissions on financial products they sell to you
- a % of the assets they manage for you (the most common “fee only” arrangement)
- A fixed fee (e.g. per quarter, or per project)
I am a fiduciary. Our firm charges a fixed fee
for comprehensive financial planning and investment management services up to a certain amount of assets. For any assets beyond what is covered in the baseline fee, we charge a % of the assets. We do not require an asset minimum to work with us.
What’s your expertise? What client base do you work with?
Ideally, you’re looking for someone who works with people like you on issues like the ones you have. I’d argue that’s all the more true for women and LGBTQ people
, where having someone who understands what it’s like to be in your shoes can make all the difference.
I am a Certified Financial Planner, the gold standard in the industry. I specialize in working with women and LGBTQ professionals who want to forge their own path in work and in life. Most of my clients work in tech or are self-employed, and while they have great careers and lives, they also dream of having the financial freedom to opt out of the hustle. Why did I choose this niche? Because this is also my story
, and my hope is to help empower “our people” to live their best and wealthiest lives.
What’s it feel like to be a client? How often can I expect to meet with you?
If you read through the services offered by most advisors, they all sound confusingly the same. But the big difference is in the “how,” so it’s important to ask specifically what working together looks like.
I typically meet with new clients 6 times over the course of the first year. We start off with an exploration about values and goals and then dig into the details of your financial life, starting with whatever is most urgent. Along the way, we’ll have a no-numbers meeting that’s just dedicated to expanding your vision around living the life you want. Then it’s about turning your vision into numbers and a plan of action.
What clients say they most appreciate is having an objective sounding board whenever something comes up – and something always does. My clients know that they can count on me to weigh in on a decision or guide them through a life change whenever they need it.
Go with your instincts:
If done right, hiring a financial advisor can be one of the most impactful relationships for your future. You want someone you feel comfortable talking about life’s most important and sensitive things.
You can only tell so much from a website. That’s why I offer a free initial call
– a chance for you to ask confidential questions and get to know me.