Does my financial advisor support me just because my mother is rich?
Question: I have about $500,000 in assets, including my retirement savings. However, I’m not sure I meet my financial advisor’s minimum asset requirement. She took me on as a client because she already manages my mother’s money. My mother is rich, with millions of dollars invested. As a result, I often feel uncomfortable pressing my advisor for more information. Guess I’m not a big customer for her. The advisor has invested my money in funds that I don’t understand, but I don’t feel able to question her. I basically turn to her for advice if I’m making a big life decision, like refinancing my mortgage. I have a friend who is a financial advisor and I sometimes wonder if I should transfer my portfolio to him, but I don’t want to deal with too much personality either. What should I do? (You can use this tool to connect with a financial advisor who might meet your needs.)
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To respond: Some of the discomfort you feel may not come from the direct communication, but rather from the messages they put out in their newsletters or in the wording of their website. “You might subconsciously get the message that you don’t belong in this category,” notes Kevin Mahoney, founder of Illumint, in Washington DC.
But that message doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t meet their minimum asset standard or even if you don’t, that they don’t consider you a valued customer. After all, many people get rich once they inherit money. “Millennials will inherit a fair amount of money from their parents over the next decade,” Mahoney says. “Financial advisors take this into account in their business plans.”
That said, it’s important that you feel comfortable and trust your advisor. So talk to her about what’s bothering you and how you’d like to communicate with her in the future. If you don’t feel after this conversation that she likes you and is willing to spend the time you need, feel free to move on. (You can use this tool to connect with a financial advisor who might meet your needs.)
“There’s no hard and fast rule that you should keep your parents’ counselor or get your own counselor,” says Kenneth Alter, chief executive of the International Planning Alliance in New Jersey. “You have to consider your own case on the merits and make a decision from there.”
If it’s time to move on, there’s good news on that front. The financial advisor industry has changed significantly over the past decade, Mahoney says. Many “advisors don’t have the same investment minimums or approach to business that created a sense of inadequacy among younger investors,” he says, adding that there are even “advisors available who specialize at particular stages of life. Mohoney says, “People in up-and-coming generations are looking for advisors who are more aligned with their circumstances,” Mahoney says. (You can use this tool to connect with a financial advisor who might meet your needs.)