ABCs of Investing - How to choose a good Financial Advisor Representative

  • The representative must be honest, trustworthy and ethical If you sense a lack of sincerity and trust in the representative, you probably want to seek a second opinion. An advisor who lacks strong ethical standards and compromises ethics for convenience will not hesitate to compromise your position.

  • The representative must be able to understand your financial responsibilities. If he has little or no idea about your situation after you have explained to him, and cannot determine your problem areas, then he probably cannot recommend you the solutions that meet your needs.

  • The representative must think of your interests instead of his. Client centred is vital. An advisor who thinks of his interest before yours will probably recommend solutions that benefit him more than you. Your interest can be easily compromised in the process.

  • The representative must be impartial and objective when recommending solutions. This is to ensure he is able to provide appropriate and effective advice in accordance to your needs.

  • The representative must have access to a wide range of financial products. An advisor who is limited by products will not be able to offer competitive and creative products in his recommendation.

  • The representative must have good knowledge of the various financial products available. It the advisor is ill-informed of the various financial products, he will not be able recommend solutions that have taken into consideration various alternatives available.

  • The representative should possess good work ethics and habits. He has to be diligent and be prepared to serve your financial needs. An advisor that is often difficult to contact will frustrate you and cannot help you achieve your objectives.

  • The representative must be a good listener. An advisor that is impatient will tend to hurry you into committing on the investment too soon. The advisor should gather sufficient information before proposing a solution. He must be prepared to conduct a thorough fact-find and involve you in the discussion stage to understand your situation well. This will ensure that he takes into consideration your situation before recommending you an appropriate plan.

  • The representative must have a proper system of record keeping. This is to ensure that he keeps track of the history of discussions you have had with him regarding the areas of concerns, action plans and objectives.

  • You should feel comfortable with your representative The client advisor relationship is critical to ensure that you are able to rely on him for effective and professional advice. Achieving your financial goal is a long term process that requires constant review, good advice and strong sense of discipline. If there is too much information that you cannot divulge to your advisor because you are not comfortable, then your advisor will not be able to advise you appropriately.

  • The representative must continuously keep himself abreast of the changes in the industry. If you sense that he is unwilling to further his education and improve his knowledge, then you may be dealing with an obsolete advisor in time to come.

  • The representative must be serious about his career and stay in the business in the long term. Only an advisor who takes his job in personal financial advisory as a long term career can ensure that he will be there to help you achieve your objectives. If your advisors are changed too often, you will get tired of ensuring that you deal with the right person and probably waste too much time trying to go through old data too often.

We thank the Association of Financial Advisors (Singapore) for their advice on choosing a financial advisor.