Financial Advisors

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I know very little about finacial advisors or wealth management, so I decided to try learning.

At a basic level it seems like:

  • Wealth manager: Wealth management brings together tax planning, wealth protection, estate planning, succession planning, and family governance. Wealth management can be provided by large corporate entities, independent financial advisers or multi-licensed portfolio managers who design services to focus on high-net-worth clients.
  • Finacial advisor: A professional who provides financial services to clients based on their financial situation. In many countries, financial advisors must complete specific training and be registered with a regulatory body in order to provide advice.

... yeah so I still don't understand the difference, but I've been watching some interesting videos are here are my notes on the actual half-decent videos:

Types of Financial Advisor

Video: What is a Financial Advisor?.

  • Stockbroker - buy and sell stocks on behalf of client, usually for a fee/commission.
  • Financial Planner - advise on estate planning, retirement planning, insurance needs, personal finance.
    • Certified Financial Planner (CFP) - held to strict ethical (Fiduciary Duty) & performance standards, required to have experienced and pass a board exam.
    • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) - similar to CFP.
  • Investment Advisor - build investment portfolio based on goals, timeline & risk tolerance. Help build manage & transfer wealth.
    • Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) - registered with state regular, focus on investment advice around stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other securities.

Questions to ask a Financial Advisor Before Signing

Video: Best Questions to ask a Financial Advisor in 2022.

  • (1) How are you paid?
    • If you get pushback ask: How much money will come out of my pocket every year?
    • Is it commission based (commissions from insurance policies), asset under management (% of AUM quarterly), planning fee (maybe $1000 a year) or a flat fee (cheapest in long run)?
    • Is there a load charged up front?
  • (2) Are you obligated to put my needs first?
    • In other words: are they held to a fiduciary standard? (CFP)
    • If so, what are their ongoing fees?
  • (3) What are my ALL-IN costs?
    • Will you leverage their advice for a short time or long time? Maybe you want to take on more responsibility down the line.
  • (4) What is the scope of the services provided?
    • What will be the nature of communication? What are the terms of the engagement?
    • Some might include a financial plan for kids and retirement, some might include tax documents (CPA) others are just about managing stock.
  • (5) What are our qualifications?
    • Formal: College, licenses, CFP (credibility, but hard to get).
    • Informal: How are they doing financially? References?
  • (6) Why are you a financial advisor?
    • What motivates them?
  • (7) How will our relationship work?
    • Will you bounce ideas back and forward, will you just receive information? How often communication.
    • Quote: "all conflict is a result of expectations not being met"
  • (8) How often will we communicate?
    • Also: How will you communicate (text/in-person/formal/phone/etc)?
    • Also: When are they expecting you to take action.
  • (9) Why did your last two clients leave you?
    • After a little rapport built, see if they answer honestly.
  • (10) What happens if/when we stop working together?
    • How will advisor feel if you don't act on all their recommendations.

Formulate a Request

I haven't got a financial advisor *yet* honestly! But I found a nice recommended set of finacial advisors on an internal Google recommendation sheet, and I figure I'll reach out to them with this:


I'm a software engineer at Google and I've never had a financial advisor, but you were recommended by XXX in an internal google spreadsheet. I'd love to chat about what options are available, and below I have a quick summary of my finances.

Kind Regards,
    Dr Andrew Noske.

My financial state:

  • X year old software engineer at Google earning base $X a year.
  • Single, no kids and renting alone in the Mission District, San Francisco.
  • Own no property.
  • Have ~$XM total in U.S. assets, with about:
    • Bank of America: $Xk (earning little interest)
    • Charles Schwab : $Xk vested Google shares (probably should to diversify) + $X unvested Google shares (golden handcuff) + $Xk S&P500.
    • ...

My financial goals:

  • Buy my first property within a year... maybe a 2 bedroom in SF and live in it for at least 5 years and not lose on a crash.
  • Longest term: Save enough to quit Google early, and work more on passion projects.
  • The dream: More passive income streams + still able to do vacations and visit my family in Australia more often.
  • Also: Undecided on children, but maybe have enough to afford 1-2 children one day, although Australia would be cheaper for that.

See Also