One tried-and-true method of finding a professional advisor to help you plan your financial future is to ask your friends and relatives. But, unfortunately, that isn’t as easy as it sounds. The truth is you can’t ask just anyone; you need to ask someone who shares your goals and values, whose advisor does what you want an advisor to do. That means giving some thought to what you want from an advisor, to what your purpose is for seeking financial advice.
For example, are you looking for someone to help you build your investment portfolio? Then your needs may be met by someone who is licensed to sell mutual funds or securities. Are you looking for someone to do your income taxes? Then you are looking for a tax practitioner or an accountant. Or, are you looking for an advisor who can help you create a financial plan that reflects your goals and values and who can guide you on your way through all life’s stages? If so, you are looking for someone who takes a holistic approach and who has access to savings and insurance products that can protect your wealth as well as build it.
So establish your criteria. Then if you have a good friend whose advisor is doing for him what you want an advisor to do for you, ask for a referral.
“Ask a friend you trust,” says veteran Sun Life Financial advisor Brian Burlacoff1, who joined Burlacoff Financial Services Inc. in Toronto in 1989. “Ask someone who is financially responsible.”
In fact, ask two or three friends for referrals. Sure, you want to find an advisor who is knowledgeable and can offer the products you need, but you want more than that. If your goal is to find an advisor who will take you from saving for a house to saving for your children’s education, to planning for an illness to planning your estate, you want an advisor with whom you can have a long-term relationship. You want to find an advisor with whom you “click.” After all, you will be sharing the intimacies of your life with this person.
The importance of checking credentials
With your list of referrals in hand, you are ready for the next stage: research. Most advisors have websites and some time spent online will tell you about your potential advisor’s credentials. Does he or she have a professional designation? Some designations are conferred by industry-wide groups that set standards and hold their members accountable. Other designations are bestowed by educational bodies. Some advisors belong to professional organizations that have continuing education requirements. Some have distinguished themselves in their professional communities. You also want to make sure your candidates are reputable and haven’t had run-ins with financial services regulators. Half an hour spent online familiarizing yourself with the advisor’s profile will stand you in good stead when you meet face to face.
Then you are ready to meet your candidates for the job of your advisor. You are looking for the best fit with your goals, values and personality.
“Find someone with whom you are comfortable,” suggests Sun Life Financial advisor Brent McKay2, a 21-year veteran of the financial services industry and a member of the family-run business McKay Insurance & Financial Services Inc. in Simcoe, Ont. “Trust is a big issue; it has to be someone you can trust, someone with whom you can build rapport.”
Choosing a financial advisor can be an important step in the road to financial security. Once you have found the right person, you will be ready to set off on your journey.
1 Brian Burlacoff,* M.Acc., MBA, CFP®, CLU,® CHS. Burlacoff Financial Services Inc., Sun Life Financial advisor
2 Brent McKay,* CFP.® McKay Insurance & Financial Services Inc., Sun Life Financial advisor
* Mutual funds offered by Sun Life Financial Investment Services (Canada) Inc.
Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada is a member of the Sun Life Financial group of companies.