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What is a Good Financial Advisor?

A good financial advisor should care as much about your investments as you do, and be personable and knowledgeable enough to make the relationship worth your time, money, and trust. Choosing a Financial Advisor is a bit like choosing a caretaker for your child: you would want someone who gives you a sense of security, who has professional references or the recommendation of a trusted friend, years of experience, is reliable and honest, can foster growth, and ideally, will care about your child almost as much as you do. Continue reading...

What is a Financial Advisor?

The term "Financial Advisor" applies to professionals who are compensated for helping to implement investment strategies, but it is a broad and non-specific term. There are thousands of people who are called “Financial Advisors” – but within this category are various professions with different specialties and compensation structures. There are Financial Advisors, Financial Planners, Investment Managers, Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), and at times even CPAs, insurance agents, and lawyers are included in this umbrella term. Continue reading...

Do I Need a Financial Advisor?

The answer to this question will depend on the preferences and circumstances of each individual. As your assets grow and your financial picture becomes more complex (with unclear tax implications, and interdependent asset classes), then the answer is more likely to be yes. For those investors with a more modest-size portfolio, it may not be necessary. Financial modeling tools and market research publications are widely available, and while they are not one-size-fits-all answers, they can serve investors quite well when used wisely. Investors who choose not to consult an advisor must be willing to educate themselves. Continue reading...

Where Do I Find a Financial Advisor?

A financial advisor can be found through an online search, at events, or through the recommendation of friends. Believe it or not, while there are thousands of resources and databases, the best way to find a Financial Advisor is to ask your friends. You will need to determine a few basic criteria when looking for a Financial Advisor, such as geographical location, his or her age bracket, years of experience, frequency and medium of communication, and the amount of fees you are willing to pay. While there are thousands of resources and databases, sometimes the easiest way to find a Financial Advisor is to ask your friends. Continue reading...

Do I Need an Advisor on a Permanent Basis?

Short-term advisor relationships do not tend to be very productive, and can sometimes be counter-productive, but advisors may still be useful for one-time consultations when an investor just wants an opinion on a specific issue. A long-term relationship with one advisor is preferable to many short-term relationships. Meeting with a new advisor will usually be part of a transition period where an investor is looking to try something new. The advisor may start out with some preliminary planning but the investor may jump to the next advisor before the former advisor could really shape the plan he or she was seeking to build. Continue reading...

How old should my portfolio manager Be?

While we do not doubt that a young advisor can be intelligent and helpful, there is really no substitution for experience and tenure. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to choose a manager who has experienced various market cycles. Younger advisors who have never helped their clients through a recession may not be as humble, prudent, or knowledgeable as ones who have. If you can find an advisor with over 10 years of experience, we would recommend that over an advisor with only 3, all other things being equal. There are advisors and wealth managers with only a few years under their belts but who have learned a lot in a short time. Continue reading...

How do Advisors Charge and How Much Should I Pay?

It depends. There are three commonly used fee structures: fee-only, fee-based, and commission-based, Advisors can be compensated in three ways: It’s impossible to say exactly how much you will end up paying for an advisor – it really depends on the type of advisor you decide to hire, the amount of trading or planning you will be using them for, and the size of your portfolio. In some transactions with commission-based planners, you may not see any out-of-pocket cost; their commissions are built into the products in such a way that it may not appear that there is any direct cost for their services. Continue reading...

Do I Need a more Specialized Financial Advisor?

Some advisors have practices that focus on specific types of investments or niche markets. If your investment portfolio seems to be lacking a particular area and you are not confident that your current advisor or you yourself can take on the challenge of incorporating the changes you desire, then you may want to speak with a more specialized advisor in that particular area. Similarly, some advisors focus on specific types of clients, such as medical professionals, and if such a category suites you then you may find that your needs are best met by someone who deals with people like you most often. There are some designations and certifications that advisors can earn beyond the standard ones, which may cause them to be sought out on certain topics or investments. Continue reading...

How often should I call my financial advisor?

While a client should be involved in communication efforts as well, it’s really the advisor that should be reaching out with information and scheduling appointments at least once a year. You should definitely discuss your investment portfolio with your Financial Advisor at least annually. Even if nothing has changed, it’s important to keep communication lines open. On the other hand, doing that more than once a quarter without a pressing need to do so might lead you to make poor decisions based on emotions and shortsightedness, rather than on investment discipline. Continue reading...

What is an ADV form?

A form ADV can be requested to find out all about the fees and professional backgrounds of a financial advisory firm. Firms who engage in the solicitation of securities or give investment advice must file form ADV with the SEC and keep it updated, usually on an annual basis. It is similar to the form U4 that individual securities-licensed professionals must submit and keep updated in the event of changes of address, tax liens, industry disciplinary actions, and so forth, but the ADV is filed on behalf of a firm instead of an individual. FINRA and the NASAA keep up with the filings as well. Continue reading...

Where do I find a good CPA?

A good CPA can be a valuable ally. You should find one who works with clients similar to you and who is easy to talk to. Taxes and accounting are a part of nearly every financial instrument and consideration that people will be confronted with in their life. It can be very beneficial to work with a CPA who can advise you properly on the issues that affect you. It can also be detrimental to place too much trust in a CPA who isn’t really an expert in the areas he claims to be. Continue reading...

What is Investment Advice?

Professional investment advice is highly regulated, and all publications, seminars, correspondence and recommendations between professional advisors and clients must be kept on record and hold up to scrutiny. It is easy to mislead or misinform investors who have not had a chance to educate themselves, and their very livelihoods are at stake if their money is mishandled. Investment advice can be found at the local barber shop, bleachers, and beaches, but those who want to make sure their money is handled correctly will seek professional advice. Continue reading...

Should I pay for financial planning services?

Any professional that you work with for financial planning is going to be compensated for the work they do, but there are different ways they earn their pay. Whether it’s worth it to you is another question. If you have enough knowledge and time on your hands, and your investment portfolio is not very complicated, you may be able to manage it on your own. This can save you some money on financial advisor fees. Continue reading...

How many financial advisors do I need?

It’s good to have the opinion of advisors who are knowledgeable in various areas of your planning and portfolio, but for most portfolios this can be reasonably accomplished with one advisor. It’s a good idea to have one Financial Advisor who oversees all of your assets, and if the individual parts of your portfolio are of significant size, you might consider having a specialist in those fields to oversee them. Continue reading...

What is IRS Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business?

IRS Link to Publication — Found Here The Tax Guide for Small Businesses is a 50-page booklet designed to help small businesses navigate the forms and publications needed to file their taxes. There are many nuances to filing small business taxes, and many kinds of small businesses, so this form comes into use quite often. The Tax Guide for Small Businesses includes instructions and a list of documents and forms which will help small businesses file their taxes. Continue reading...

What are Investment Ideas?

Many services today offer investment ideas to consumers, some through subscription services, some available on a public website. Almost none of it is meant to constitute investment advice, in the legally-defined sense, because investment advice is only to be given by a licensed professional with regard to the individual situation of each person. Investment ideas are published by websites and subscription services to educate and inform people about possible ways to make money investing. This might include tips on stocks, bonds, funds, options, real estate, collectibles, and so on. Continue reading...

Where do I Find a Good Attorney for my Estate Needs?

There are thousands of attorneys that specialize in estate planning, so choosing the right one for you can be a challenge. If possible, referrals are the best approach. Your Financial Advisor should definitely have resources and a network available to recommend a reliable estate and/or tax attorney for you — someone he or she has been working with for a number of years at least. Ultimately, the best source is a referral from a friend or someone else you trust. Continue reading...

What is Form 2848: Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative?

IRS Link to Form — Found Here Sometimes individuals need representation to argue their case to the IRS or the tax court. To this end, there is an IRS form, the 2848, which designates an individual to represent the taxpayer on tax matters. The person receiving agency must be qualified and certified to perform such work. CPAs, Enrolled Agents (EAs), tax attorneys, and a few other professionals are qualified to represent taxpayers (or non-taxpayers, as the case may be) on tax matters in a tax court or IRS audit. To give one of these registered tax advisors the authority to serve as your agent and proxy for such matters before the IRS and tax courts, you must file a Form 2848. Continue reading...

Should I Buy a Long-Term Care Policy?

Whether you should own a long-term care insurance policy depends on a myriad of factors, including but not limited to affordability, family medical history, your liquid net worth and your cash flow needs in retirement. It also depends on your ability to make consistent premium payments to ensure your policy stays in force over time. Since a Long-Term Care plan requires you to keep paying the (steep) premium until you actually start to use the coverage – or you’ll lose it, it may not be a great idea to buy the policy if you have financial insecurities in the near (or even distant) future. Continue reading...

How Can You Buy a Stock?

There are many services online and custodians that that can facilitate stock trades. Anybody can buy shares of a publicly traded company, but it must be done through a brokerage firm or a custodian. Brokers and brokerage firms act as middle men between the buyer and the seller. Some brokerage houses such as E-Trade, Ameritrade, or Charles Schwab offer low-cost services online to anyone with a checking account, and offer no personal advice. Other brokerage firms focus on the human element, offering investment advice and making additional money through long-term client relationships and the commissions and fees that result from portfolio management. Continue reading...

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