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Finding the Right Financial Advisor for You and Your Senior

Many caregivers are responsible for overseeing their loved ones’ assets and making financial decisions as part of regular caregiving duties. Often, they may turn to a financial advisor to help make investment decisions.

What’s in a Title?

Let’s start by demystifying the titles of stock broker, investment advisor, and financial planner as defined by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Stock Broker – “Broker-dealers” (brokerage houses) are the firms for whom “registered representatives” (stock brokers) trade stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc., for their clients. They charge a fee each time they buy or sell a security for you, and they pass along any third-party charges they incur, such as mutual fund fees.

Investment Advisor – The term refers to a firm or an individual who receives compensation in exchange for “providing advice about securities to their clients.” They are registered through their state or with the SEC. Most handle securities for their clients, but those who handle “exotic” investments for accredited (wealthy) clients, are registered as well. They may charge a management fee in addition to transaction commissions.

Financial Planners – This catchall title includes “brokers or investment advisers, insurance agents or practicing accountants — or they have no financial credentials at all.” There is no regulation of financial planners; however, depending on what services they provide, they may be registered by a governing board. They can be paid by a commission, management fee, or some combination of both.

There are over 100 designations for financial advisors ranging from “3 Dimensional Wealth Practitioner” (C3DWP) to Wealth Management Specialist (WMS).

Questions to Ask

When searching for the right financial advisor, AgingCare.com suggests that you ask about the following:

  • Education and work experience
  • Certifications and/or licenses
  • Services offered
  • Minimum net worth required of clients
  • The advisor’s philosophy/approach to financial planning
  • Who executes the financial plan
  • Any known conflict of interests
  • Fee structure

The trust you and your senior feel or don’t feel after you’ve investigated and interviewed a candidate trumps everything. The quickest route to finding the right financial advisor is often through word of mouth from a trusted family member or friend. Financial peace of mind is not just about money in the bank; it’s directly related to the peace of mind you feel when dealing with the financial planner.

If you’re a caregiver, overseeing finances is just one of many ways you look out for your senior loved one. A medical alert system can give you additional support and can help bring increased safety to your senior’s living situation.

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