Both parties need to be upfront when it comes to financial strategies

Expectations need to be set on both sides when you enter into a relationship with a financial professional, says Brad A. Dickman, CFP®, ChFC, Managing Partner at Stonebridge Wealth Strategies.

“As your financial professional, I might think I’m doing a great job by meeting with you two times a year,” Dickman says. “But in your mind, I should be reviewing your plan four times a year. You believe I’m falling short and are therefore disappointed in the level of service I’m providing. If I don’t know that, I can’t fix it and you’ll continue to be frustrated. This is why it’s so important to have consistent communication and to take steps to ensure that you and your professional are on the same page.”

Wealth management and retirement planning is a fluid process that requires regular monitoring to account for changes in your life, your job or your family. When you build a strong, trusting relationship with your financial professional, it becomes that much easier to keep up with these changes and account for them in your planning process.

Smart Business spoke with Dickman about keys to building a better relationship with your financial professional.

How do you know if a financial professional is right for your needs?

Find someone you like and trust who you can build a rapport with. Knowledge is also key. This person should be working on continuous education and taking steps to stay current with investment regulations. You want someone familiar with your investment strategy who can offer sound advice on the best way to help maximize the return on your investments.

What can you do to make it easier for your advisor to help you?

People will often enter into a new relationship with a financial professional in a very guarded state. It might be out of concern that this person is going to try to sell you something.

But most advisors and financial professionals are not in the business of trying to sell you a product or service. Their primary goal is to offer advice that fits your specific circumstance and then help you craft a strategy that meets your needs.

Be open about your current status, both the good and the bad. If you just got a great return on an investment or some other income boost, you obviously want to share that with your advisor. At the same time, if you have $50,000 in credit card debt, you’ll want to share that too. Otherwise, it’s going to be extremely difficult to build a strategy that enables you to meet your goals.

What if you have concerns about your advisor?

Own your situation. You may make a personal connection with your advisor, but at the end of the day, it’s a business relationship. You owe it to yourself to address and resolve any concerns that might be hurting your financial strategy. Often, problems start with a small misunderstanding. It’s something that either wasn’t understood in the beginning or something you forgot to ask about before preceding to the next step.

If you can stop a problem early, it becomes a small bump in the road and you continue forward. But if you let it fester because you don’t want to rock the boat, it can create bigger problems that could leave you in a tough spot.

If you believe it’s time to make a change, request an apples-to-apples comparison with another advisor who can look at your plan and identify any holes that might exist. Talk about the pros and cons of your current account versus what the new advisor can to offer. The key to success with any advisor, new or existing, is communication.

Financial Professionals of Stonebridge Wealth Strategies are registered representatives who offer securities products through AXA Advisors, LLC, a registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, investment advisor representatives who offer financial planning and investment advisory products and services through AXA Advisors, LLC, an investment advisor registered with the SEC. Annuity and insurance products offered through AXA Network, LLC. AXA Network conducts business in CA as AXA Network Insurance Agency of California, LLC, in UT as AXA Network Insurance Agency of Utah, LLC, in PR as AXA Network of Puerto Rico, Inc. Stonebridge Wealth Strategies is not a registered investment advisor and is not owned or operated by AXA Advisors or AXA Network. AGE 120531 (11/16)(Exp 10/18).

Insights Wealth Management is brought to you by AXA Advisors, LLC