Recently, I spoke with Adam R. Rosenzweig, a financial advisor with MorganStanley SmithBarney. Rosenzweig pointed out that many people are becoming disillusioned with their financial planners in the aftermath of the financial crisis and the stock market crash. However, Rosenzweig has seen his clientele increase. So I wanted to find out what it was that made him a desirable choice. Rosenzweig provided some insight into what makes a good financial planner.
“It’s about helping my clients meet their goals,” Rosenzweig told me. “I’m a fee-based financial planner, so when their accounts are down, my pay is down. They also know that I am not making speculative investments.”
Instead, Rosenzweig has been following a more staid, commonsense approach to managing his clients’ assets. “I never tried to go for the big short-term gains, the home runs. Instead, I look for opportunities that help the client get a regular check.”
Another thing Rosenzweig has done is try to provide good customer service. He explains to his clients why he is doing something. “It’s important for clients to be educated. It’s also important to reassure them.” Because of his more conservative approach to asset management, Rosenzweig has been able to demonstrate to his clients that — even though they are down — it isn’t by as much as some others are.
If you are looking for a financial advisor, Rosenzweig has some advice. Some of the things he recommends include:
- Look for someone you are comfortable with. “Have an initial consultative meeting. You need to feel that trust for your financial advisor,” Rosenzweig said.
- Find someone with education. “Your financial advisor should have the proper training and experience to help you reach your goals,” Rosenzweig pointed out. (You can check credentials at such sites as CFP.org and FINRA.org.)
- Asset management philosophy. You want someone who has a philosophy similar to yours. You also want someone who has a steady strategy. “An advisor shouldn’t change underlying strategy for each client,” Rosenzweig said. “Personalization is important, but there shouldn’t be drastically different approaches for each client.”
In the end, it is nice to have someone you can trust and turn to for advice. Choose a financial planner that is fee-based so that his or her success is dependent more on how well you do, and less on commissions from products pushed. “There are so many competing voices, and you never know who the financial media is beholden to,” Rosenzweig said. “In the end, you need to have someone you can turn to.”