7 Important Questions Everyone Should Ask Their Financial Advisor

No matter what your current financial situation looks like, it’s always wise to have a financial plan in place. A financial advisor helps you manage your finances today and create a solid plan for your future through retirement planning and investment management. 

If you have financial goals you’d like to achieve or need help navigating various investment options, sitting down with a financial advisor is a great place to start. But how can you choose the right advisor for your individual needs and goals? 

The right financial advisor for you will do three things: 

  1. Understand your goals
  2. Advise you according to your best interest
  3. Create a plan that works for your specific financial situation 

It’s also helpful to choose an advisor that can work with you through many changing seasons, from paying off debt to saving for your kids’ college education, and from updating your estate to planning for retirement. 

Simply put, you want to establish a relationship with an expert who can advise you well for the long haul. At Marietta Wealth, we strive to be a different kind of financial firm. Our primary goal is to help you reach yours. Whether you’re walking into our office for a meeting or chatting with other potential advisors, here are the questions you should plan to ask. 

1. What should I expect in our first meeting? 

Before you start working with a financial advisor, it’s a good idea to sit down with them to share your goals and learn about their financial philosophy and strategy. Your wealth management, retirement planning, and investment strategy are all very important! It’s always wise to meet with someone before partnering with them in these facets of life. 

When you walk into Marietta Wealth for your first meeting, you can expect a pressure-free, open discussion. Our goal in this meeting is to get to know you and learn about your financial situation and your needs. In many ways, the first meeting is a fact-finding mission. 

We offer a questionnaire that you can fill out before our meeting – it’s an incredibly helpful overview for us that saves time in our appointment. However, this is not required before you sit down with us. If you’d like to discuss in person instead, we’re happy to accommodate. The more details we have by the time our meeting ends, the more prepared we can be to help you find a customized solution for your goals.

2. Are you a Fiduciary? 

This is an incredibly important question to ask anyone who’s helping you with financial planning or advising. A fiduciary is someone who makes financial decisions on behalf of a client and is legally responsible for acting in their client’s best interest. 

If a financial advisor doesn’t have a fiduciary duty to you, they can recommend investments or products that are in their best interest instead of yours, which can cost you money or send you into a plan that isn’t wise for your particular situation. 

At Marietta Wealth, we act as a fiduciary to our client’s managed accounts. We are legally and ethically obligated to do what’s best for you as our client. You can rest assured you’re getting a fiduciary standard of care in your advisory relationship. 

3. How do you get paid?

Most financial advisors operate in one of two ways: fee-only or fee-based. 

A fee-based financial planner makes money from you and from other sources, such as receiving compensation from financial products (like insurance, real estate partnerships, mortgages or investment banking services) they sell to you. This can lead to a conflict of interest — they could charge you for advisory services while only recommending products that provide compensation to them. 

In contrast, fee-only financial advisors are paid only by their clients. This is the model we operate under at Marietta Wealth, which goes hand-in-hand with our fiduciary duty. We sell advice, not products, so we do not receive compensation from outside sources. We believe in complete transparency in the client-advisor relationship, and operating a fee-only service is one way we support that goal. 

4. Where do you custody assets? 

Financial advisors offer just that: financial advice. Unless they are also a broker-dealer, they will not be the place you open any financial accounts. 

At Marietta Wealth, we use the following custodians to hold client assets: 

We have established relationships with all of these brokerage firms, so we can help you plan your finances with them and advise you along the way, but your accounts and the assets in them will always remain your own. 

5. How will you create my investment strategy? 

This is a great question to ask any financial advisor, but the answer should always be the same: “We’ll create your strategy according to your needs and goals.” 

Marietta Wealth primarily uses individual common stocks, exchange-traded funds, and mutual funds for long-term growth allocations in our clients’ investment portfolios. We focus on high-quality individual common stocks for the majority of clients’ equity allocations in order to reduce investment costs and limit turnover in your account that could cause unnecessary tax consequences.

For clients’ fixed income or bond allocations, Marietta Wealth prefers to invest in individual treasury bonds, bank CDs, or exchange-traded funds. We make our recommendations primarily based on balancing the appropriate exposure to credit risk and interest risk that makes sense for our clients.

We routinely review our equity and bond holdings to confirm they are still appropriate for our clients’ needs and goals. 

6. How often will we meet? 

It’s important to know how your ongoing relationship with your financial advisor will look. After all, you’ll be planning and managing your financial goals with them on an ongoing basis! We believe that an annual meeting with your financial advisor is best. 

Once your plans, investments, and goals are established, there is less need to check in more often than annually for a general review unless your circumstances change, such as a major change in your financial situation or life goals. However, neglecting to meet with your financial advisor for years isn’t wise. You want to choose an advisor who will continually put your best interest first, not someone who will set up accounts and neglect them. 

At Marietta Wealth, we believe an annual meeting is best practice for all of our clients. Of course, if something changes materially in your financial life, we’d be happy to schedule an additional meeting to discuss the changes and shift our strategy if needed. Some changes that are helpful to discuss: 

  • Changing employers or careers
  • Earning a promotion
  • Buying or selling property
  • A significant change in assets
  • Getting married or divorced
  • Having a baby
  • Starting your own business 

7. How often will I receive reports from you? 

Once you’ve learned your advisor’s meeting schedule, ask a follow up question about reports. Realistically, an annual report is not enough to ensure that your accounts are working for you and helping you meet your benchmarks and goals. 

At Marietta Wealth, we run and send quarterly reports to our clients. We believe this is a healthy frequency to look over your accounts and make sure all is well. If you do see something on your report that you’d like to discuss, we’re always happy to take your call and talk through your accounts or investment portfolio. 

Making the Most of Your Financial Advisor

These seven questions are not all-encompassing (feel free to bring your own to your meeting with us!), but they will provide you with a solid foundation for discovering if the financial advisor in front of you is a good fit for your needs and financial goals. 

We would love to partner with you to create a financial plan that serves your interests and provides you with the financial freedom you need to pursue your dreams. Get in touch with Marietta Wealth today – our advisors can’t wait to connect with you. 

The information provided is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to be used, and should not be used, as the sole basis for legal and/or tax advice.  Individuals should seek and rely upon the guidance and advice of their own legal and tax counsel before making any decisions regarding any planning, investment, tax concepts or strategies discussed herein.  Individual circumstances may vary and results discussed are no guarantees of applicability or future performance.

Marietta Wealth is a registered investment adviser.  Registration of an investment adviser does not imply any level of skill or training.  For additional information about Marietta Wealth’s financial planning and advisory services, please see the Marietta Wealth Disclosure Brochure or ADV Part 2A for full details, which is available upon request or by visiting our website.  

Certain of our representatives are Certified Public Accountants with the accounting firm Ben H. Crowe, C.P.A., LLC which is affiliated with Marietta Wealth Management. To the extent that these representatives provide accounting services, which may include tax advice, to any clients, including our advisory clients, all such services shall be performed by those representatives, in their individual professional capacities, independent of our advisory firm, for which services we shall not receive any portion of the fees charged by the representative, referral or otherwise. It is expected that these representatives, solely incidental to their practices as accountants, recommend our advisory services to certain of their clients. No client of Marietta Wealth Management is under any obligation to use the accounting services of these representatives. Our Chief Compliance Officer remains available to address any questions that a client or prospective client may have regarding this potential conflict of interest.