- If you’re not completely happy with the relationship you have with your financial professional, it’s okay to switch.
- Many people who decide to move to a different financial professional do so because of one of these 8 things.
- If you decide to switch, make sure you do these 4 things, plus a 5th if you want.
Is your current financial professional right for you? Have you found ‘the one’? Or are things just not working out?
Money is a very personal thing for most people, so the relationship you have with the person who helps you manage that money is important. They work for you. But if the relationship isn’t working for you, then it may be time to switch financial professionals.
8 Signs it’s time to move on
If you find yourself wondering whether your financial professional is the right fit for you, look for these red flags.
1. Communication drops off
This is one of the biggest reasons people switch financial professionals. At the very least, you should hear from your financial professional once a year; more often if you’re approaching a big life event like retirement, marriage, buying a home, or sending a child off to college. Or, if you contact your financial professional and they don’t get back to you in a reasonable amount of time, it might be time to shop around for someone new.
2. You’re charged fees you didn’t expect
Fees are part of every financial services arrangement. You either pay through a fee-only arrangement, as a percentage of your assets managed, or the financial professional earns a commission on the products (funds, etc.) you purchase through them. But you should never be surprised by the fees you are charged.
3. Their investment strategy is incompatible with your views
It’s important to understand how your financial professional feels about things like risk, asset allocation, and other important philosophies. Have they tailored their tactics to meet your goals, or do they have a ‘set in stone’ approach for everything?
4. Your personalities don’t mesh
This is a biggie. Regardless of whether you’re laid back or a hard charger, make sure your personality doesn’t clash with how your financial professional likes to work. If you’re a big-picture person, it may not work for you to work with someone who goes into too much detail every time you talk. Or, if you want to understand all the ins and outs of how your money is being managed, choose someone who is willing to take the time to explain it all patiently, and without judgment.
5. As your life changes, your financial plan isn’t changing
A financial plan is meant to be a living, breathing, dynamic approach that changes as your life changes. If your financial professional wants to sit back and rely on a plan that’s no longer matched up with your life goals, it’s time to change your financial professional.
6. The advice you need isn’t coming through
If your financial professional isn’t equipped to give you the advice you need when you need it, it’s time to switch. This means that if you’re someone who needs reassurance when financial markets go wild, don’t settle for silence. If you ask a question and don’t get a timely response, this is a red flag as well.
7. You’re not on track to meet your financial goals
Poor portfolio performance is a big reason people move on. Regularly compare your portfolio’s performance to key market benchmarks to make sure you’re in the same ballpark performance-wise. If your goals are not aligned with your asset performance, consider moving elsewhere.
8. Trust is absent from the relationship
It’s so important that you be able to trust the person who is helping you manage your money. If you’re not confident that your financial professional is listening to you, or you feel too intimidated to ask questions, it’s time to find a new financial professional.
How to switch financial professionals
As with all relationships, breaking up can be hard to do. But if you find that you do need to move on to a new financial professional, here are some handy tips.
1. Read your current contract, look for details about termination
The cost of switching to a new financial professional depends on the agreement you have with your current financial professional. Some may charge a fee, you may have to pay to sell assets that cannot be transferred, or your contract may include a waiting period. Keep these costs in mind before you decide to switch, to make sure it makes good financial sense.
2. Gather copies of your investing records
The law requires that your records be transferred when you switch to a new financial professional, but it’s always a good idea to keep a copy for yourself, especially if anything goes awry during the transfer. This information is important for documenting the purchase date and cost-basis of your assets, which is needed for tax reasons when you eventually sell them. Most times you can find these records online, but don’t be shy to ask if needed.
3. Consult your new financial professional about any fees associated with moving
You may have fees that go with transferring your existing assets into a new account, or you may need to pay to invest any cash that moves over. Make sure you understand how much the transaction will cost, and if any assets need to be sold before they’re transferred, know that the sale could have tax implications for you.
4. Break up with your old financial professional (if you want)
This is the part many people dread. You can choose whether to share your reasons for switching, but you’re not obligated to do so. Know that you’re not the first client to switch, and you certainly won’t be the last. But it’s always a good idea to be courteous, to make the transition easier.
5. Let your new financial professional handle the transition
There are strict protocols for transferring funds from one financial professional to another. Some of your assets can transfer directly, while others may need to be sold and reinvested. This is when it’s a good idea to let the financial experts do their job. The entire process should be completed within a few weeks, but things occasionally can take longer.
While the process of switching to a new financial professional may seem daunting and awkward, never forget that it’s your money and your decision as to how and who helps you manage it. You should always feel like you are valued as a client. There are so many qualified financial professionals, there’s no reason to ‘stick it out’ with someone who’s not a good fit. And when you land with the financial professional who’s right for you, you’ll be glad you made the switch.