Speaking from experience, the relationship between financial advisors and their clients is incredibly important. Whether you rely on your advisor to help with retirement planning, saving for college, or meeting other goals, this individual will help determine how you approach some of life’s biggest financial decisions. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an advisor.

Find someone who shares an interest in your future. Your financial advisor should ask questions about your hopes, dreams and concerns. Your advisor should not be someone who only talks at you, but also listens to you.

Your advisor should know the marketplace. A good advisor should offer a tailored plan based on your goals — whether it’s building cash reserves, protecting your income against death or disability, or creating a balanced portfolio.

Financial advisors shouldn’t be know-it-alls. A smart advisor knows when it’s time to gather input from other experts, such as tax and legal professionals. Find an advisor who is willing to use a team approach to help you reach your goals.

Select an advisor with a solid reputation. When interviewing advisors, ask for references and specific examples of how they helped clients reach their goals. Check the advisor’s educational background and note any professional designations they have earned. You may find this infor-mation and on websites like FINRA.org.

Once you choose an advisor, you can start customizing a financial plan that fits you. Here’s what to expect during the planning process:

Set Goals: Your advisor will ask questions to help you identify your financial needs and dreams. These might include:

  • Envisioning your future — what’s next for you?
  • Where do you see yourself living?
  • What lifestyle goals are important to you?
  • Providing for your children’s education?
  • How do you envision your retirement?
  • Do you want help to reduce the effect of taxes on your assets?

Don’t worry if you can’t provide detailed answers. As you go through the financial planning process, your responses will become clearer to both you and your advisor.

Determine the Facts. After setting goals, assess your current financial picture. This includes gathering information and materials for your advisor to get a clear picture of your present situation.

Create the Plan. Your financial advisor will work with you to establish a course of action designed to help you achieve your goals. This strategy may cover things like:

  • Your needs, goals and values.
  • Current assets and liabilities.
  • Investment portfolio recommendations.
  • Retirement plan.
  • Insurance audit and needs analysis.
  • Estate planning analysis.
  • Product recommendations and action items.

Implement the Plan. After reviewing your strategy and consulting with your financial, tax and legal professionals, you and your advisor will implement the plan.

Meet and Review. Now that your plan is in motion, you will want to meet once or twice a year to review progress and make updates.

Selecting an advisor and creating a financial plan does take some time and effort. Once you take action to achieve your goals, you’ll likely discover life’s challenges can be better managed with the security of having a plan in place.

For info, contact Michael W.K. Yee at (808) 952-1240.

1 The Money Across Generations IISM study was commissioned by Ameriprise Financial, Inc. and conducted by telephone by GfK in December 2011 among 1,006 affluent baby boomers (those with $100,000 or more in investable assets); 300 parents of baby boomers; and 300 children of baby boomers at least 18 years old. The margin of error is +/- three percentage points for the affluent boomers segment and +/- six percentage points for the parents and children of boomers segments.

Ameriprise Financial and its representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. Consult with your tax advisor or attorney regarding specific tax issues.

Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients. ©2012 Ameriprise Financial,Inc. All rights reserved. File # 143286