How to Choose a Wealth Management Firm

October 3, 2019 | Bernard Carter
Wealth Advisor giving advice to clients

Building a strong relationship with your wealth management team means you’re embarking on your wealth journey with trusted partners by your side, people who believe in your dreams, who are guiding your decisions, and who are actively working with you to pursue them. Who manages your assets, and how, should be considerations that are as important as the process of building your wealth.

Wherever you are in your wealth journey, whether you’re just getting started in building your assets or if you already have assets that are ready to be managed, a team of financial advisors can be a significant benefit to you, by putting you on the right financial planning path from the start, or ensuring that you’re taking the right steps to continue building your wealth potential, in the ways that will work best for you now and in the future.  

There are plenty of people and firms advertising their services and eager to take on the management of your assets. It can feel challenging and overwhelming to think about how you’ll identify a team that you can trust long-term with something that matters so much to you. To help you sort through the mix, we’ve identified a few key considerations that can get you started. 

Verify firm and advisor credentials 

It is critical first to ensure that you are considering an accredited firm and advisors with the appropriate licenses, credentials, and certifications. These credentials prove the firm and advisors are operating to an industry standard and that they have the training, qualification, and experience in providing financial advice, recommendations, and information. If you are unable to locate credentials quickly and easily, or if a firm or advisor is unable or unwilling to provide you with information, consider this as a warning sign and keep looking. 

Consider their reputation 

You’ll want to look for and read reviews about a firm thoroughly, and you also want to consider digging a little deeper. Find out if the firm or any advisors have any adverse history, complaints, or if they are currently facing any lawsuits. Also, if there are any, look into how the firm resolved those issues. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if a firm is registered and what rating they hold.

Also, look into whether a firm has high rates of the client and staff turnover, and if a firm outright refuses to give you any information relating to this topic, consider this a red flag. A reputable firm that is interested in you as a person, not just as another portfolio, will have nothing to hide and will want to be open and honest with you. Consider that a firm that isn’t interested in providing you with accurate and forthcoming information and answers about their history and how they do business will likely manage their relationship with you in the same ways.

Understand differing approaches to payments for services 

It’s important to understand upfront how a firm intends to charge you for their services. Each firm will have their preferred methods, but there are typically three ways a firm receives payment for managing your assets:

  • Charging a percentage of your portfolio’s value
  • Charging an hourly rate or annual retainer
  • Payment per product and service sold

Depending on your portfolio, one payment method may end up costing you more than another, so gather and evaluate as much information as you can to ensure you’re choosing the best option or asking a firm to be flexible with your preferences.  

Consider who they are, what they believe, and how they do business 

Whether you’re actively working with a firm, looking to make a change, or considering one for the first time, ask yourself some of the following questions: 

  • Do you feel at ease when discussing personal and sensitive issues? 
  • Are they responsive to your inquiries and prompt in returning phone calls and emails? 
  • Is it clear to you who they are and how they do business? Do you agree with their values and approach? 
  • Does the firm actively have clients with portfolios similar to yours in terms of assets and net worth?
  • Do you feel heard? Are they making recommendations that align with your stated needs and goals? 
  • Do they update and communicate with you proactively and regularly?

You wouldn’t hesitate to call your closest friend for advice about a personal issue, and you should feel the same way about your relationship with your wealth management team. 

Trusting someone to manage your portfolio and assets can feel risky. You are putting responsibility for a part of your life and livelihood that you’ve worked hard to achieve into the hands of someone else. They’re not just looking after your finances; they’re looking after you and your family—who and what matters most to you. This isn’t just business; it’s personal.

If you have questions about wealth management, choosing the right firm or advisors, or would like more information about financial services, we invite you to contact our friendly and knowledgable team at Hapanowicz & Associates. You can also feel free to reach out to me directly at bcarter@hapanowicz-associates.com

We look forward to getting to know you. 


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