Working Successfully With Your Financial Advisor | American Funds

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Creating a Financial Plan

Working Successfully With Your Financial Advisor

Financial advice is based on teamwork. Your advisor can serve you best when you’ve taken the steps to build a strong professional relationship.

No matter the amount of your assets, you can benefit from working with a financial advisor who’s dedicated to helping you build wealth over the long term.

If you are looking for a financial advisor, FINRA’s BrokerCheck® is a good resource for researching the background of an individual and/or firm.

Once you’ve found an advisor who shares your investment philosophy, follow these ABCs of financial advisor tips to ensure you work well together.

Advice

There is no one-size-fits-all financial plan, so a financial professional needs a clear understanding of your specific circumstances before he or she can offer personalized advice. Before meeting with an advisor, take time to consider your own needs and expectations. A financial professional may also help you articulate your thoughts with the aid of a questionnaire or conversation.

Look beyond simple investment recommendations to identify your short- and long-term goals. Do you have children — or parents — who depend on you? Are you saving for college while planning for retirement? A financial advisor can objectively assess your financial situation and investment philosophy to help set realistic goals in line with your time horizon and risk tolerance.

Business Practices

Understand how your advisor is paid. Some earn a commission on the investments they offer. Others charge an hourly rate or collect a small percentage of your assets being managed. If any charges are unclear, ask questions.

You’ll need to provide copies of your important financial documents. Keeping your records in order will make meetings go more smoothly. Your advisor will need to see documentation about your income, investments and expenses.

Communication

We think it’s a good idea to meet with your advisor at least once a year. Find out how your advisor prefers to communicate, and be clear about your preference regarding how, and how often, you’d like to be in touch.

When you meet, your advisor can discuss your investment results, monitor your level of risk, provide some perspective on the general economy and offer investment advice. This is also a good opportunity to assess your evolving needs and make any necessary adjustments.

Even though you’ve hired someone to help manage your money, you’ll feel most in control if you are an involved, committed participant in your financial plan. Learn about your investments so you can ask the right questions. Working with a financial advisor is a team effort. The more you know, the more you’ll benefit from this important professional relationship.

Documents to Bring

Your advisor needs to make an accurate assessment of your finances. Be ready with this information:

  • Latest statements for all your accounts
  • Information about any other investments or assets
  • Details about income from all sources
  • Monthly expenses
  • Recent tax records
  • Estate-planning documents

Investments are not FDIC-insured, nor are they deposits of or guaranteed by a bank or any other entity, so they may lose value.

Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. This and other important information is contained in the fund prospectuses and summary prospectuses, which can be obtained from a financial professional and should be read carefully before investing.