Critical Steps to Finding the Right Financial AdvisorApr 12, 2021
During a recent interview between real estate developer and investor, Ken McElroy and renowned financial advisor John MacGregor, the two touched on a range of critical topics, including the importance of choosing the right financial advisor. This is a summary of the key points that came up during the interview.
Realization Dawns Too Late
One of the most heartbreaking moments in my life as a financial advisor is looking across the desk or coffee table in the living room or the small, round table in a café and knowing what I’m about to reveal is a truth my client wasn’t expecting to hear.
“You can’t retire.”
Not yet. Not now. Not the way you expected.
Unfortunately, it’s a conversation I’ve had to have far too many times, most often with people in their mid-60s. They contact me, set up an appointment, and are eager to get all the details ‘ironed out’ so they can (finally) put in their retirement notice.
In a few tragic instances, these people already took that final step and have left their careers, handed over the business they spent a lifetime building, or unceremoniously told their boss to ‘hit the road, Jack.’
While I rare individual at that age would be welcomed back, most manage to burn those bridges, willfully or simply by a matter of necessity.
And they hear those words they weren’t expecting to hear: you can’t retire.
But, but … we invested. We saved!
They have the paperwork, their 401(k), a pension, and savings. Why can’t they retire?
Honestly, because they’re not only living beyond their means, they just hadn’t considered how quickly they would likely outlive all that money.
Let me be frank here: we are living in unprecedented times. I mean, I’m hearing from people all over the world, from all walks of life about how they are honestly scared about what’s happening in the financial world. And what’s about to happen.
Watch the news and you’d think we were on Cloud-9, untouchable, in perfect health.
Social Security in the U.S. will run out of money. Mismanagement and downright fraud has depleted what should have been a decent program. Politicians call it an ‘entitlement.’ Money you pay into every paycheck since the time you could work, designed so you’ll have money every month when you retire … that’s not an entitlement. Not in the way the word is used in DC.
It’s money the workers deserve. They’re not ‘entitled’ to it like a handout; that’s our money! But politicians have raided it for decades to pay for any number of social programs that bring them more political capital in the form of votes.
Wall Street numbers are ridiculous. Record highs posted month after month, even in the middle of a pandemic! For what? Something’s driving the numbers and it’s not production. It’s bubble and it will burst.
The world relies on the U.S. dollar as the standard currency, but it’s not healthy. Not when a nation is sitting on $27 TRILLION in debt and climbing.
And public as well as private pensions are beyond underfunded. To the tune of 20 or 30 trillion dollars, or more. Counting on yours for retirement? I wouldn’t. Sure, you might get some of what was promised, maybe all, but you’ll be the exception.
People are lulled into a false sense of security. As a result, they go about their lives spending and spending and spending, living the lifestyle they want, and assuming whatever’s going into their retirement savings, pension promises, and Social Security will be more than enough for retirement.
Not even close.
How easy is it to ‘miss the mark?’
When it comes to retirement and savings or investments, many of the people who connect with me and meet in my office, only to hear those dreadful words, did the same thing: they hired a ‘financial person.’
That sounds great, doesn’t it? Forward-thinking. Responsible.
But here’s the issue: most of them had no idea who this person was when they hired her or him. They heard a pitch, read a spiel, and handed over some money.
While I will admit there are plenty of good, solid financial experts and investors out there, unfortunately there’s a whole host of ones who either have no clue or see it as an opportunity to exploit people, to separate them from their money.
And you know what else is so stunning about this? To become licensed as a financial advisor, you need to be sponsored by a firm or a broker dealer and pass on exam. You get up to six weeks to pass it.
Imagine going in for heart surgery and finding out your doctor only passed one simple exam. Once.
It’s crazy! But this is what people are dealing with, and they have no idea. They have no idea what to look for in a financial advisor. They aren’t even aware they should be on their guard over something like this.
It takes more time, more classes, and more money to become a certified hairdresser in this country than it does to be licensed as a financial advisor. I am not knocking hairdressers. They work they do is valuable, but come on, people … if you mess up a haircut, it’ll grow back in a few weeks.
Mess up someone’s life investments and savings, then what? There’s no reset button. No ‘do over.’
And yet time after time I hear stories of people who simply handed over copious sums of money or even complete control over their financial life to someone they never vetted.
In my international bestselling book, The Top 10 Reasons the Rich Go Broke, there’s a story about an older gentleman I knew back in Hawaii who called me in a panic because he had a sinking feeling the guy he handed over a bulk of his money lost it all. It turned out the guy wasn’t even a licensed or certified anything. He just talked a big game and people all over town knew him.
When that story came to an end, the “financial” guy had hung himself and the older gentleman was barely able to make ends meet.
It’s insane. And tragic. And happening every day all across the country and around the world. And in these trying economic times with what’s coming around the bend, all I can say is you owe it to yourself to find the RIGHT financial advisor.
How to find the RIGHT financial advisor.
If you really want to dig in to this topic, download my FREE guide, The Ultimate Guide to Selecting Your Financial Advisor on my website.
If you want the Cliff Notes version, let me give it to you quick:
1. Interview at least three.
Before you choose a financial advisor, you should interview at least three. The more you look into, the better your options. Plus, you’ll actually learn something about each of them that will help you refine your approach to focus on the one who has your best interest at heart.
Remember, though, just because an advisor doesn’t have your best interest at heart doesn’t mean they’re bad or fraudulent. Not in any way. It simply means each one has a specific specialty and/or approach that may not work well with your goals, plans, or lifestyle.
2. Ask questions.
I know a lot of people can become intimidated by asking questions. “I don’t want to sound stupid” is the most common refrain.
And, the obvious and common response is accurate: the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.
This is about your future. Your livelihood. Your life! Make sure you ask questions to dig deeper into how this potential financial advisor will serve you.
Ask about their background, credentials, and whether they are a CFP (Certified Financial Planner). I highly recommend someone with these credentials, personally. It means they really are committed to this business and industry; they know their stuff!
3. Find out about the fees.
Fees are inevitable for these services, but you need to make you know and understand what the fee structure is and will be for what you’re doing here.
High fees can wipe out everything you gain through investments. In some cases, you could end up owing the advisor or firm more than you gain through the investments they make on your behalf.
4. Learn about the support staff.
Most of the time you’ll be dealing with admin staff, not the advisor directly. Make sure the office runs smoothly. Make sure there are enough staff to handle the needs of all their clients, otherwise you could end up pulling your hair out just trying to talk to someone there!
5. Focus on communication.
How long will this advisor be connecting with you, updating you on how things stand? It should be at least quarterly, in my opinion. If an advisor says they touch base once a year, that’s just not acceptable.
When we focus on these factors, you’ll be able to find a financial advisor who is right for you. In this political and economic climate, you deserve to find one who will put your interests first.
And you can.
John MacGregor is an international best-selling author, global speaker, and financial mentor to thousands of people worldwide. For over 26 years John has been assisting individuals with their personal financial needs using paradigm shifting techniques and strategies so people can finally live the life they deserve to live. Check out John's website for a variety of free resources so you can immediately start your journey to financial freedom and peace of mind.