A Partnership for Life: transparency and your financial advisor

“There’s no single professional that’s right for all clients.” ~ Gerri Walsh, vice-president for investor education, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra).

Service is generally about politeness, competency and going the extra mile to help a customer. But the service provided by your financial advisor is a different story altogether – because here you are looking at the very epitome of trust, the basis of a partnership for life.

And therefore it should be a relationship that is open, honest, forthright and enduring. In fact, a friendship. And the key to this, is transparency.

One would expect financial advisors to practice transparency in their interactions with clients. But however well you think you know someone, it’s always a good idea to ensure you are building a relationship in trust and honesty, and that your advisor has your best interests at heart and not his or her own. How can you be sure of this?

Transparency: all the cards on the table

Transparency means that your advisor should meet a range of expectations regarding their professional status:

  • a fiduciary with proven qualifications and trackable references
  • the provision of accurate information when offering investment advice and services
  • not withholding any information that would negatively impact investor decisions when they seek to buy any particular product
  • always putting the client’s needs at the head of the relationship – so that the process involves meeting the client’s goals and not merely the sale of products
  • your advisor is directly responsible to you – you are not hiring a company but an individual
  • building a long-term relationship is where you should be going when it comes to securing your investments – being able to ask the right questions, and discuss any fears or uncertainties, is vitally important
  • your financial advisor should display the characteristics that make you feel comfortable: integrity, openness, attention to detail, authenticity and good communication/reporting skills – everything should be above-board
  • it’s also advisable to choose an advisor whose age, gender and educational background will sit well with your own profile and outlook – not only should you connect with shared life experiences, but literally you should be planning to age together.

Credentials, ethics, experience and business practice

Credentials:

Your advisor should have the proven qualifications and background to handle your requirements competently. He or she should be able to provide you with an authentic roadmap of how, together, you are going to reach your goals. You need to know if you’re reaching those goals and building your wealth and security for tomorrow.

Ethics:

Your advisor should be open and encouraging, should await your opinions and feelings, and should not force a particular investment strategy upon you. In this way, trust and credibility are built. In addition, the advisor should be working with a recognised 3rd party custodian, giving a solid record of professional management.

Experience:

An experienced advisor who is transparent should be able to advise you on what to avoid as much as what to buy. The right financial advisor will paint a clear picture of not only where you are now with your investments, but where you’re headed in the future.

Business practice:

An honest financial advisor should be open, upfront and factual about fees. In addition, an advisor at the top of his or her game should be an accomplished strategist with sound reporting and communication skills, keeping you in the loop with changes in the market, and the right moves to make at the right time. Transparency means that all the cards should always be on the table. With a well-honed track record, an established advisor should provide management services across several areas of wealth-related matters: financial planning; retirement funding; investment guidance; insurance; tax; and legal advice.

Adding quality to every stage of your life

The Foster Group, backed by a proud 30-year history, believes in working for only the best results in all areas, from investments through to retirement planning, and including insurance matters. Creating a personal partnership with each client – and mindful of every individual’s plans, dreams and goals – we are there to guide and advise you on each milestone of your financial journey, not only during your working years but well into retirement.

For us it’s about more than just generating income and retaining capital in investments, it’s about the quality of your life each step of the way and your peace of mind. That’s why we focus on building sound relationships based on professionalism, experience, and friendship.

Find out more about us at: www.fosterprivateclients.co.za

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