When it’s Time to Fire Your Advisor

May 15, 2018

Time to fire your advisor?

Professionally, I see the many effective and creative ways advisors from across the country work with and for their clients. Personally, I am an advisor’s client. And as a client, the first quarter of every year presents a great opportunity to have a comprehensive conversation about goals and expectations. And to review the way my advisor will work with me. I had that meeting in February, and I left with a strong feeling: this relationship just isn’t working. It’s time to move on. This feeling isn’t necessarily a generational issue, although some of my reasons why are part of being a client with expectations that reflect the time we’re living in. It’s actually more that my relationship with my current advisor doesn’t reflect the values I seek from it. I need to figure out a way to tell my advisor, “It’s not you, it’s me.” And I think my reasons are relatable to others in this situation:

The relationship was doomed from the start

Like many advisor/client relationships, I was a referral client, from my parents. While this type of introduction happens all the time – and should happen for legacy reasons – I should have done the proper due diligence on his value proposition. Instead, I just went with my dad’s “guy.” It’s been 10 years and instead of feeling like an established client, I still feel like I’m my dad’s son. My immediate family’s needs are very different from my parents’ needs, so shouldn’t my relationship with my advisor be different?

I initially needed investments, now I need financial planning

And this is something that many of my fellow millennial investors see when their personal lives change. At the beginning of my advisor/client relationship, my focus was maximizing growth through investments. We had discussions about what was doing well and what wasn’t, but the discussion was still focused on investments. The moment I got married, investments were still a large part of that conversation, but I believe should have evolved to include the needs of my family, not just me. Having a child only makes things more complex. So while my personal life evolved to include the need for comprehensive financial planning, my relationship with my financial advisor remained the same.

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Technology isn’t a want, it’s a need

According to a Spectrem Group report, What Do Millennials Expect from Financial Advisors? (March 2018), approximately 40 percent of millennials indicate they are likely to use a robo-advisor in the future. That’s a large number of a generation willing to use tech as opposed to a traditional financial advisor. Personally, I think the combination of automated technology and financial planning through an advisor makes complete sense. For example, being able to access my account online is important to me, but the comprehensive planning I prefer in person. For a less complex client, their investment solution could be managed through technology, but the planning begins day one: paying down student debt, the importance of saving for retirement or even saving for a home. These are some topics that resonate with the millennial generation – or any generation for that matter.

I could be a center of influence

I’m an older millennial, so most of my close friends and colleagues are somewhat established in their careers, have families or are planning one. And almost a majority of them are also managing some type of debt. While I continue to have a working relationship with my advisor, he’s never asked me to introduce his services to others. And every time one of my friends asked me for financial planning advice, I should feel inclined to refer them to the financial advisor that I work with – currently I do not.

So you might be wondering why I stayed with my advisor so long, certainly these issues aren’t new. The biggest holdup is me. Every year, I find an excuse why I can’t take the time to find an advisor that better matches my family’s values. Each meeting where my advisor doesn’t bring up education planning for my daughter is a red flag that we’re not on the same page! It’s definitely time to break up. Even though it’s going to be extremely awkward to make the split, it’s necessary for my family to be connected to an advisor that meets our ever-changing needs.

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