I read a great US based study this week that had to do with financial advice and found some bits of it really relevant. "The study cited several attributes that distinguish a remarkable adviser experience from just an acceptable one. “Someone I can fully trust to have my best interests at heart/not just out to sell product” emerged as the leading priority (57%). Other factors included:
“Not feeling judged on size of assets/financial decisions” (36%)
“Deep expertise across a wide range of financial solutions and strategies” (33%)"
In my opinion, trust is a process. Trust is earned over time by being reliable, timely in your responses, disciplined, professional and knowing your subject matter thoroughly. Your initial gut response is a good indicator of whether you want to continue your conversations, after meeting with an adviser for the first time. Every time, I have ignored my own intuition in choosing clients to work with, I have made a costly mistake- so it works both ways and as they say, the body never lies.
Not feeling judged
Different advisers do have different minimum asset size thresholds so best to ask this before the meeting, if it is a worry. I enjoy the diversity of working with younger clients who can have a lower asset size, unless they have an inheritance, so I am flexible in this area. Some of my favourite clients also started out with me when they were young and have gone on to be successful so asset size is not a deal breaker, if I really like the client and feel we have a good connection.
It is a fine balance to effectively challenge a client without judgements, review financial priorities at meetings and course correct over time as financial planning is a process. From anecdotal evidence, and conducting several money workshops, I would say it is a huge asset to have someone who offers a relaxed, non-judgemental space for you to talk about your past, present and future financial choices. You might also prefer an adviser who uses anecdotes, stories and light humour rather than technical arguments or factual information which leaves you feeling emotionally disconnected.
Yes, this one is obvious too. And also, look for expertise in the specific area of financial advice you want - ex. ethical investing or pensions draw down, etc.