Finding the Right Financial Advisor
January 23, 2023
How to find a financial advisor to help you and your family
“The strongest of all warriors are these two; time and patience.”
Remember the formula for wealth:
Earn money doing what you love and what you are skilled at.
Save a portion of that money and put it away for the future.
Invest in a diversified set of companies and bonds.
Let time and compound interest make you independently wealthy in the future.
I would add, do the above with haste, do not waste time trying to be clever.
“You may delay, but time will not.”
We are often struck with anxiety when we know we need to act on something, but we do not know how to start. For students, it could be a vague assignment they must complete, for me, it is usually something related to home improvement. When we must do something, but we have little interest or knowledge about a topic, often we become stressed. This can lead to further avoidance or procrastination which of course always causes more stress. If the problem isn’t going away, it is usually best to develop a plan of action and implement it. Avoidance generally doesn’t work out well.
This happens a great deal in my world. People put off addressing necessary estate plans, investment plans, and tax plans for various reasons. I have seen many disastrous scenarios of people dying without a will, with no life insurance, and with no estate plan. I have seen people earning incredible incomes get fired in middle age and have virtually no savings to fall back on.
Do you procrastinate when it pertains to these issues? Do you say: I will act once I learn about these issues? Do you feel like people in finance are out to take advantage of you; or that you cannot trust them? Do you say: I will deal with this when I have more time?
These are all valid emotions. However, I am here to let you know that it is absolutely in your best interest to address the issues despite your emotions.
It can be done without having to learn about topics that don’t interest you (estate, tax, insurance, and investment). You must find people that are truly trustworthy. Not just a fiduciary; a friend that lifts you up.
My stress and worries about getting ripped off on home improvement projects are gone. Plumbing, electrical work, and painting no longer bother me at all because we have found friends in those fields that have our best interests at heart. We know they will charge us fairly, and I never quibble about the price because I do not have to. They would not charge an egregious price because they want to help people and be paid fairly. Yes, I am equating blue collar work with financial advisory; I just happen to be more interested in the latter.
Therefore, finding a trustworthy fiduciary advisor that cares about you can absolutely be accomplished. A good fiduciary advisor will have your best interest at heart, the right motivations for helping you, and will quarterback a wholistic plan that will address your needs in these important areas. In return, you will pay this advisor to deliver the plan, and to proactively help you achieve your goals and mitigate risks to address uncertainty in your life and the financial markets.
So far so good, but how do you find a fiduciary advisor with the following key attributes:
Motivated by helping you live your best life (thanks JF) by reducing stress and anxiety.
Acting in your best interest. Your interest will always come before the advisor’s interest (a true fiduciary).
Humility in all aspects of their business and life.
Confidence because they are self-aware of their expertise and their shortcomings.
Hard working in the relentless pursuit of resolving areas of concern for you.
Respectful in all their business dealings.
Vulnerable and willing to discuss challenging topics.
Grateful for the opportunity to serve you and your family.
Experienced in their field.
Reputation for honesty and empathy toward others.
Extensive network of relationships used to your benefit.
A team and culture that is consistent across the entire advisory firm.
I believe August Wealth ticks the above boxes. You might say: Joe, this is a sales pitch; you are trying to drum up more business. My answer: you bet it is! If we can help more families address these important issues, we have an obligation to try and help. This is our mission after all.
However, I am not saying we have all the answers, or that we cannot get better, nor am I saying other advisors cannot do what we do.
In the last four years, I have met some incredibly kind and empathetic wealth advisors across the country that want the best possible outcomes for their clients. August Wealth has developed partnerships with many of these firms because we know we don’t have expertise in every area, but we know through quality partnerships, we can tap trusted expertise to help our clients. A special thank you to our partners at Stratos whom deserve credit for facilitating many of these relationships. August Wealth fully acknowledges that we did not become a successful advisory firm without Stratos and our clients that took a chance on us during these past three years.
So, although it is possible to find qualified and trustworthy people, you should proceed very thoughtfully and carefully. There are indeed many people that will seek to take advantage of your lack of knowledge and your fears. What should you look for?
The Narcissistic Advisor:
“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people that want to feel important…They justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”
There are narcissistic personalities out there that are a danger to themselves and that are a grave danger to the vulnerable. Some well-known characters have inflicted massive damage, high-profile cases such as Ponzi or Madoff, but there are many others that exist among us that inflict damage on a smaller scale to those close to them.
It is essential to reflect intently on the character and behavior of the person. It is difficult to see through a narcissistic personality because the narcissist themselves are unlikely to recognize their own psychological issues. They prey on emotions, they prey on generosity, and they cannot help themselves.
I found this list of behaviors from the Mayo Clinic to be a useful guide:
The Selfishly Motivated Advisor:
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”
There is of course nothing wrong with trying to better one’s economic standing and the freedoms that this affords. However, if you are dealing with a person that takes pleasure in wealth itself, be cautious. Pay attention to how this person lives their life. Even fiduciaries may tell you what you want to hear to attract and/or retain your business. Many people in finance put their own wealth objectives in front of others. Everything is a fight to be number one, but I have learned over many years that this need not be the case. Investing is not a zero-sum game; at its core, investment returns stem from helping one another grow.
Listen to your gut when meeting with an advisor; do they want to help you and your family? Do not be afraid to ask friends that are experienced in the field or in business to vet a person you do not know. Ask for client references. If you do not feel comforted and at ease after meeting with a prospective advisor, you should not move forward if there are reservations.
The Inexperienced Advisor:
“Mistakes are the usual bridge between inexperience and wisdom.”
Phyllis Grissim Theroux
The hurdle to become a financial advisor is not very high. Regulatory bodies provide some protection, but it is rarely enough. They cannot know a person’s character; they can only provide guardrails that attempt to protect against bad behavior.
Most successful advisors are good salespeople and problem solvers. They are good at planning, organization, and execution. Some are good at tax, others at relationships with external partners, some with trust and estates, and others with investments.
It is important that the advisor clearly articulate their strengths and weaknesses, and how these fit into their process of helping you achieve your goals.
Good advisors will stick to their strengths, and they will add resources internally or externally to solve for their weaknesses.
The questions to ask yourself:
What does money mean to you? What do you want from it?
Why do you think you may need a financial advisor?
Is this advisor’s personality and culture a compliment to you?
Is this a person that you want to have a meaningful and important relationship with?
Is this a person that will challenge you to help you obtain what you want and more?
Is this a person that you respect?
Does the advisor, their team, the environment of their office leave you with a positive feeling?
Is their pricing fair and fully transparent?
Does the advisor have the experience and skills required to address your needs?
The bottom line is that a good financial advisor should help you achieve greater wealth by proactively acting in your best interest to seek optimal outcomes across all aspects of your finances and investments.
If you have anxiety, stress, or lack the time or skill to focus on your family’s wealth, we want to try and help you. We believe strongly that an advisor will provide added value to most families.
There are very qualified, trustworthy, and independent fiduciary advisors at independent firms that can truly benefit you.
What makes August Wealth Unique?
Our varied career history and personal backgrounds contribute to our ability to provide open-minded advice with broad perspective.
Our endurance of our own personal pain and suffering provides us with increased empathy towards others.
We are happy to help on any topic that may be causing you anxiety: A career change, a business decision, family decisions, life changes, retirement, vacation homes, outside investments, and many other situations.
My personal path from economist and macro hedge fund manager to financial advisor provides the basis for an investment culture that is adept at assessing risk across many different variables. We build portfolios in house that are tailored to your needs, goals, financial situation, and risk tolerance.
Our motivation to help others by alleviating anxiety pertaining to money and investment. We focus on process. A rigorous and thoughtful process should lead to best outcomes for everyone.
If you feel that August Wealth can help someone you know, please make an introduction. We welcome the opportunity to help others realize their desires.
Joseph Cardello, Principal
August Wealth Advisors, LLC
51 Riverside Avenue, First Floor
Westport, CT 06880
Direct (916) 461-9451 toll free (800) 985-9477
Investment advice offered through Stratos Wealth Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor; DBA August Wealth Advisors.
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