With all the news regarding the mishandling of funds by financial professionals, it may be time to revisit the criteria we consumers have been using to choose a financial advisor. Here is a “moral” checklist you may want to consider when hiring your next financial professional.
I’ve written before about the professional attributes to look for when choosing a financial professional, this time we’ll focus on a moral checklist. The “moral criteria” takes into consideration what is right, honorable and in the client’s best interest.
This moral criterion can be applied to anyone handling your money: bookkeepers, bankers, accountants, CPAs and Financial Planners.
As you see, a moral criteria’s main focus is on creating a powerful bond of trust, decency and honesty between the client and advisor.
1. Ethics – Dictionary.com defines ethics this way: That branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.
What values would you want your financial advisor to observe? Here are the most obvious:
- Placing the client’s interest above their own
- Honesty relating to their experience and education
- Truthfulness about financial expectations
- Full disclosure of fee and commission payments
- Referral to another professional if they are not qualified to give the best advice or service
- Full and prompt disclosure of how they are handling your money!
2. Empathy – Dictionary.com defines empathy as: Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives. Wouldn’t you agree that it is important a financial advisor grasp and understand your current financial situation and future financial goals?
3. Education – Not just the professional education of the financial advisor but also the ability of the financial expert to educate their client. Education comes in a couple of forms – keeping the client abreast of the most current information relating to their particular financial situation and working with clients so advisor and client are able to make wise financial decisions and choices together.
4. Excellence – A client has the right to expect their financial advisor will keep up with and consistently educate themselves regarding the latest and most current financial information and regulations. Excellence is defined by Dictionary.com as the fact or state of excelling; superiority; eminence.
5. Experience – Part of the ethical standard by which we should judge a financial advisor is how honest and truthful they are regarding their financial training, years in the industry and general business background. It is up to us, as a client, to ask the right questions of the potential advisor and to do our homework.
A financial advisor must conduct him/herself with the highest standard of moral excellence. As a savvy consumer it is our responsibility to make sure they are acting in our best interest.
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