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How to Choose a Wealth Management Firm

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.