Finance: How To Work With a Financial Advisor
(NC)-With RRSP contribution deadlines around the corner and retirement on your mind, you may be wondering how to make the most of your savings. A good financial advisor can help, but you have a role to play too.
"The first step is choosing a dedicated advisor who acts in your best interests," says Tom Hamza of Investor Education Fund. "That means an advisor who's open about costs and avoids products that charge high fees or commissions unless they can convincingly demonstrate why a product should cost more."
To choose an advisor, he suggests that you ask these questions:
- What products do you sell?
You need a balanced portfolio, so you should look for an advisor who can sell many classes of products, including equities and fixed income products because they will have more options when selecting products for your portfolio.
- What are your qualifications?
The more seriously they take their training, the more likely they are to see the big picture of your financial situation. Look for a long-term commitment to training and professional education.
- How do you make decisions about products for my portfolio?
Interview prospective advisors to get a sense of their priorities. Ask how they would build a low-cost portfolio, and compare their answers.
Once you have an advisor you trust, your job has just begun. You must ensure your money - and your advisor - continue to work for you. Here's how:
Figure out what it's costing you
"If you're paying too much in fees, it's much harder to make money," says Hamza. "Yet some of the commission costs may be hidden, and you won't know unless you ask." Get the full tab - including commissions, management fees, administrative charges and any asset-based fees - especially if you are buying mutual funds.
Discuss your overall portfolio with your advisor at least once a year, or anytime you think it's not performing well. It pays to stay involved, especially in uncertain economic times. But don't worry about short-term fluctuations - keep your eye on medium- and long-term goals.
Learn more at investorED.ca, an independent website for Canadian investors.
- News Canada
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