Receiving the best financial advice depends relies on specific, crucial professional qualities
Aiding a client with their wealth management decisions is a great responsibility. That responsibility goes both ways since the client must use their best judgment to select an advisor they can trust. But what qualities should they assess? Which traits are the hallmarks of a top investment professional?
There are certainly red flags to avoid—among them, being hard to contact and overlooking input from all relevant parties, while failing to seek out and analyze all aspects of a client’s situation.
Individuals who vet advisors should actively look for someone independent, seasoned, innovative, a confident cynic, and calm under all circumstances. This is a unique set of traits that require some explanation.
An independent advisor makes an independent client
Independence is at the top of our list because without this quality, you’re only partially served by your advisor—since their loyalties split multiple ways. Non-independent advisors are often focused on pushing certain investments and increasing their fortunes as much as, if not more than, furthering yours.
Ultimately, some advisors either focus on benefiting you or benefiting from you. Retaining an independent advisor has numerous advantages, not least of which is placing the client entirely in control of their investment decisions because the advisor is a free agent—unbeholden to particular products or organizations. There’s no consultant’s agenda or second- or third-party interests exerting any influence over their portfolio suggestions.
Independent professionals answer to their clients and compliance regulators first, making them a conscientious ally in your wealth strategy.
The experience equation
What equals experience? It’s more than “qualifications plus time.” Any advisor can go into business and let the years pass. The dictionary defines experience as an amalgam of past awareness, present knowledge, and intuition; three traits the best advisors possess in equal measure.
Past awareness should come from prolonged exposure to markets over time and involvement with investments of all types. Present knowledge stems from attention to every factor influencing current market conditions as well as the latest products and solutions. A professional’s intuition flows from these two qualities.
There’s a sensitive balance here that, if uneven, turns experience into something stifling. Advisors with a track record of success in a particular avenue of investment may be reluctant to leave it, effectively turning their expertise into a cage for clients rather than a guide toward effective solutions. It’s why we recommend the “seasoned innovator” over the “staid traditionalist.”
Recognizing a seasoned innovator
This is an advisor with years of experience but also a fresh, energetic perspective on current and future investment options. They know their history and which options have performed well, but they’re also open and receptive to new approaches and emerging markets that could prove lucrative.
The best advisors are capable of thinking outside the box, presenting options and alternative views that can invigorate a portfolio or secure it against unconsidered risk. These individuals mix wisdom with enthusiasm and aren’t rigidly devoted to set models. They have a respect for investment tradition coupled with an appreciation of the vital and dynamic aspects of the market, and each client’s individual goals. This energy is critical, but don’t be too enamored with an advisor who’s all vim and vigor. Financial futures also hinge on caution.
A healthy dose of cynicism
A professional you can trust is someone who doesn’t have absolute faith in anything. To clarify, the best advisors will have a healthy degree of distrust relating to “sure things” or “The Next Big Winner.” If an advisor overpromises on an investment, politely excuse yourself.
Your investment consultant should be able to recommend options with some degree of confidence based on market conditions, projections, and the past performance of that class. Still, they will always heed one of the golden rules: past performance is not always an indicator of future outcomes (and it’s certainly not a guarantee).
We recommend selecting a partner who accepts risk as an omnipresent factor, and who suggests action that will protect you accordingly. And, effectively speaking, an advisor’s risk tolerance should only marginally enter the equation since they ultimately exist to realize their client’s financial goals.
It’s the client’s risk tolerance that drives investment decisions based on a solid strategy. Nevertheless, beware of any advisor who doesn’t offer cautionary advice based on robust analytics and reasoning.
Equanimity at all times
Composure is as vital in boom periods as busts. Whether a market is a bear or bull should have little impact on this trait, other than a consultant responsibly reviewing their client’s risk profile and goals in either instance. A top advisor won’t panic if the market takes a dip, nor will they rejoice and loosen focus if it picks up. They’ll maintain a logical and goal-oriented view at all times.
An advisor’s equanimity ensures no desperate moves are made if an asset class underperforms, and no overconfident decisions happen if returns exceed projections. The principles that anchor sound investing don’t shift with market forces, even though the investments might. So, look for a professional with a consistently calm character, regardless of circumstances.
At Lindberg & Ripple, we have the experience, energy, and perspective that embody the best investment advice. We’ve seen the market under all conditions, and, as a third-generation independent firm, we’re solely dedicated to helping our clients and their wealth stand the test of time.
Lindberg & Ripple offer customized wealth management, investment, and insurance solutions to wealthy families and successful businesses. We help our clients craft a comprehensive wealth planning model to achieve their financial goals with minimum fuss and maximum savings. Connect with us to learn more.