Small Business Services

Looking for the Right Financial Advisor? 3 Tips

How do you find the right professional in any field? There are usually a number of important considerations, including:

  • Credentials,
  • Experience,
  • Referrals,
  • Price, and,
  • Proximity to you.

Then there’s that sixth factor in your decision, one that can’t be quantified as easily as the first five, and which you can’t evaluate until you’re spent some time together: Do you like them? Do they seem concerned about the problems you present to them? Do they seem competent, honest, trustworthy, and friendly enough without overdoing it?

Some decisions are more critical than others. You probably don’t need to have a close, personal relationship with your auto mechanic, but you certainly want that with your primary physician.

You might think that choosing a financial advisor would fall somewhere in the middle. And if you’re just looking for someone to prepare your taxes, that might be so. But when you’re looking for someone to help you manage your money on an ongoing basis, be it your personal estate or your small business, that sixth element is critical, too.

Assessing Needs, Abilities

It’s difficult to “interview” a doctor. You have to have a reason for an office visit. Not so when you’re looking for a financial advisor. Most of them offer a free, no-obligation meeting. So set up a meet-and-greet with any candidate you’re considering.

You’ll each have different challenges during that appointment. It’s your job to describe your company (or your family) and its needs and goals. Do you want a hands-on financial advisor, someone who can consult as you make major business or personal decisions? Or are you looking for an accounting professional who will perform periodic service in areas like reports and account reconciliation, and who might oversee your daily bookkeeping activities?

The individual at the other side of the table has to take that all in and assess his or her ability to provide what you need. In the background, you’re both mulling over the less tangible aspects of this potential professional relationship.

Technology issues

Finding the right financial advisor for your business requires dealing with an issue that wouldn’t have been important to you 20 years ago: technology. Today’s best accounting consultants are also experts at evaluating and implementing financial solutions. They know the options and they know who is best suited to them.

If you’re still doing your accounting work on paper, ask your candidates why you should switch to a cloud-based accounting application and what that would involve. Have them show you what some of the screens look like. As you explore the options briefly, you’ll both be learning how well you communicate, how well this relationship might work.

And if you’re already doing your accounting online, ask if they support your specific solution; why or why not? Can they help you expand its usefulness?

Finally, do your background research. It goes without saying that this is easier than ever. Look at websites, blogs, and social media posts. Who is this person? You can save time at your meet-and-greet—and avoid visits with unlikely candidates—by reading up on each firm’s services, support, and policies ahead of time.

You’ll also get a sense of their personalities and values – important information if you plan to build a close working relationship.

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