Sandra Gilpatrick, CFP ®,CDFA™

How do you find the right financial professional to work with?

How do you find the right financial professional to work with? The connection between a good hairdresser and having the right advisor to help you:

Listening, asking the right questions, and understanding are key in a good relationship. I had the same woman cut my hair (minus one appointment) for seven years. She was an experienced stylist. She understood the nature of my wavy hair, how it bounces up extra when it dries, and any other quirks. She considered what already works for me and my existing styling preferences such as shaking out the top of my hair, before styling, to eliminate tiny hairs that stick to my face.  We had a great rhythm of regular cuts, every 7 weeks, to maintain my shorter hairstyle. Each time I scheduled an appointment, I had a great sense of comfort and trusted her professional consistency. Perhaps most importantly, she gave me confidence. She always admired my silver-streaked hair, which didn’t need coloring. She often joked that my hair looked perfect, even before it was cut. While I had certainly had good haircuts elsewhere in the past, she gave me confidence that I had great hair. I had years of appointments with her and built trust over time.

I was informed in early May, my salon location was closed?they did not renew their lease during the Covid-19 pandemic. I decided to try a salon, with comparable prices, located directly across the street. At the beginning of the appointment, I shared a photo of what my hair usually looked like, before it was overgrown, to my new stylist. We briefly discussed how he would chip away at my overgrown layers, as my last stylist did. I felt reasonably sure he understood what I was expecting. At the end of it all, he had given me a cut he thought suited me best. He said he had another client with similar hair, and this was the way he styles her hair. He blew it straight, even though the visual I showed him embraced my wavy hairstyle, and I walked into the salon with fluffy hair. He thought to trim my hair, in his fashion, would reduce the “poof”? giving me a sleeker look. The haircut was fine; however, it was not what I initially anticipated. He handed me his card and offered to revive my natural curls the next day if I was not satisfied. While he is a good professional at his trade, I did not feel he truly listened to me. 

Similar to the trust and close relationship between a hairstylist and their clients, the connection between you and your financial advisor is extremely important. Finding a reliable and professional hairdresser can be likened to your search for a financial advisor who possesses all of the right qualities. In past conversations with prospective clients, I have recommended they interview at least two to three other financial professionals to compare. I suggest they consider a Certified Financial Planner ™ and look for BrokerCheck® by FINRA, on their website, to see if there are disclosures or complaints. I also emphasize making certain you foresee yourself being comfortable in a close relationship with this professional. After my experience with my new hairstylist, I would note to ensure they ask the right questions to understand you and what you value most. I believe trust is earned; so, if it is not a referral from a friend you admire and who can vouch for the advisor, I suggest you allow thorough research and interviews guide you to a financial advisor who will listen and work to understand your financial needs and values. 

The good news and silver lining in this situation: if you are unhappy with your current financial advisor, there is always an opportunity to change advisors. If you have not worked with a financial professional before, I hope this article provides ideas for you to consider as you contemplate your choices. Managing your finances and planning for your financial goals are certainly more involved than a haircut and the stakes are higher to avoid mistakes, but I hope this anecdote can resonate with you and aid in your search for the right financial advisor for you.