Do you need one? What do you pay for? How do you find one? What to expect? How often do I meet with them?
A lot of questions come to mind when it comes to your financial advisor. Having been an advisor, and seen first hand some of the success stories (my clients rocked!), I would say that it is definitely worth working with someone you like, trust and can offer competitive, solid products. If you are picky, always meet with a couple final choices, and hear their ideas on introductory saving and financial plans.
If you have less than $100K
You can probably take your business anywhere. If you are with any bank or large insurance company (Like Manu, Sunlife, London Life) you will be able to have an introductory portfolio that insures you will be saving every month, and allow you to start investing — whether in bonds (fixed income) or stocks, directly or through mutual funds. Their are MER’s attached to the funds you will be invested in, which means if you had a 3% return, it was probably 5%, but adjusted to pay your advisor, portfolio management team and such. You can’t avoid all fees, and so this is probably the best way to go. You don’t have a lot of money, and so you can’t really negotiate your way out of it. The important thing is to avoid ‘DSC’ funds, which are an additional fee charged by the advisor to lock up your money for 7 years, making you pay an early redemption fee if you withdraw early. These can be avoided by investing in no-load funds, which all companies offer. You should be able to fire your advisor at any time, if they aren’t satisfying you. Do understand if you start chasing performance, well, every company has good and bad years, and so it is best to choose on who treats you well and who you can trust, as opposed to solely on performance.
If you have $100-$300K
Congratulations, you are starting to have some significant savings, and can finally get a break on some of the investment fees you have been paying! If you like your advisor, ask him or her about better pricing for HNW clients. Seeing you have probably been with them for a couple years, they should be able to reward you with a break, now that your investments have something to show for themselves.
Pricing will come into play. Meet with a couple different advisors, and ask about their best rates. You are a serious saver, and don’t want to pay any fees. You should be able to get your investment management fees down to below 1%.