How to Make the Most out of your Relationship with your Financial Advisor

When I started my second year as an independent financial advisor, hiring a business coach topped my to-do list.  If you read this blog, you know how much I value third-party, objective advice whether from a therapist, personal trainer or financial advisor.

Thanks to some guidance from a fellow advisor, I identified and interviewed five coaches. I learned things from each of them that I can use in my practice.  The experience made me appreciate what clients and prospects go through when searching for a financial advisor.

The biggest “aha moment” came from some initial information I received before my third interview: 5 Suggestions on How to Get the Most Out of Our Coaching Relationship.

I already do a version of this with my clients, so I can set proper expectations. But this coach put it in a way that was so effective that I wanted to use her template as my new standard.

Inspired by that template, I’ve created new guidelines to help you get the most out of your relationship with your financial advisor.  Mine apply to my financial planning services, but I think they can work in any service type of relationship. Setting the right expectations helps create a win-win situation for everyone involved.


1. Be the kind of client you want your clients to be

You’ve likely been on the other side of some kind of service task, whether it’s as a business owner or employee. Still it’s easy to forget to put yourself in the service provider’s shoes when you’re on the other side.

Some financial planning clients assume that just by hiring a planner, everything will magically get better. But that’s just the beginning. The work begins when you first meet with a planner – and by that I mean both your work and mine. Yes, my role is to analyze, educate and motivate. But in the end, you have to participate and put in the work.

So as you prepare to start this new service, take a step back. Think about what kind of effort and attention you want your clients to take. Then adjust your actions and expectations accordingly.


2. Have patience with the process

It’s probably taken you a couple of weeks, months or years to get to a point where you’re motivated and comfortable enough to hire an advisor.  And that makes sense since you’re trusting this person with many intimate details of your life. Complete trust is key to have a successful relationship.

Remember that trust takes time. Change takes time. You’ll likely go through many stages on the path to financial freedom.  So try to remain present throughout the process. Limit your distractions during meetings. Take time before and after our calls to reflect on what we discussed and the next steps. And remember that each step builds to the next.

There also may be some moments where we have to take a detour because a financial problem was bigger than we thought.  We’ll need to spend enough time together to get to know each other and hit our stride. I want to help bridge the gap of where you are and where you want to be.


3. Communicate.

Communication is so important in this type of partnership. This relationship is about you achieving your goals, not me achieving mine.  So learn to recognize and ask for what you need, when you need it. Be okay with feeling frustrated or that the process isn’t going in the direction that you want it.

If a task makes you angry or stumps you, causes you to get enthusiastic, to feel unsettled or really creates an “aha moment,” let me know. Feedback contributes to results.  As a way of engaging in the process, jot down any highlights, questions or concerns you have and bring them up when we meet.

Some times the relationship doesn’t work. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean that either of us are wrong or bad, or that the entire process was a waste. Maybe you got from me what you needed, and it’s time to move.  We can’t know in advance, so we both need to be diligent and present.


4. Be Vulnerable

Discussing finances will probably feel very intimate, and maybe even a little uncomfortable. You will go through a lot of emotions — excitement, guilt, fear — as you clean up your financial house and make space for progress.  Prepare to be open and vulnerable. I am your objective, non-judgmental guide to help you get your financial house in order. Consider this a safe space to be yourself.

In addition, be open to new perspectives and insights that you may have not thought about before. Being open and engaged in the process will help you get your desired results.


So what do you think? Any other tips you would give to making the most out of your relationship with your adviser? Let me know via the links below.