If the best financial decisions start with a plan, then the real foundation is the right planner.
People need to consider a financial advisor who takes a holistic approach, says Trent Hamans, vice-president, private banking and wealth planning at ATB Wealth in Edmonton. By seeing the big picture, and accounting for all the details that go into it, an advisor can put together the most successful plan.
“The best advisors are the ones that go beyond investments and look to what their clients want out of their financial future,” says Mr. Hamans.
As part of ATB Wealth, Mr. Hamans and his colleagues deliver wealth planning expertise and management services for Albertans, and Alberta businesses and institutions. This is the wealth management division of ATB Financial, an Alberta-built financial institution that has more than 800,000 clients and $55.6 billion in assets.
Living amid a global pandemic for the past two years has prompted many Albertans to think even more about their families, careers, retirement plans and where they want to spend their time and money. And having a solid financial plan is key to feeling secure about your future. So when choosing an advisor, what should you look for? Credentials and recommendations are important, but so is the right fit.
You may want to set up meetings with a few advisors to see who you mesh with. Money is personal, as is how you define wealth. The advisor whose job it is to help you save, invest and spend should get to know you, and your needs and wants, deeply. Bottom line: you don’t want to feel like a number.
“This isn’t a transactional business, it’s a relationship business,” says Mr. Hamans. “For that reason, it’s okay to shop around for the right advisor for you. This will be the beginning of a relationship that can last for years and years.”
Curiosity and flexibility are key
To ensure their clients’ financial well-being, Mr. Hamans says a good financial advisor needs a strong sense of curiosity.
“They need to be curious about you and your goals, and need to continually ask questions along the way to make sure this plan is right for you,” he says. “Life isn’t stagnant, so your financial plan can’t be either.”
A sound financial plan can not only help you to achieve your goals, it can also help you to weather volatility in the financial markets. Big ups and downs can be weekly, if not daily occurrences. This can be stressful if the right plan isn’t laid out beforehand.
“With a proper financial plan, people can know what to expect in times of turmoil,” says Mr. Hamans.
Market fluctuations may also affect your risk tolerance level. Those are opportune times to meet with a trusted advisor, who can make tweaks if needed, and also provide reassurances that you’re on track.
“There’s a difference between conceptual risk management and real-life risk,” says Hamans. “Maybe it’s just about creating a new equilibrium for themselves and their investments. Quite frankly, this is where the value of an advisor comes in.”
Regular check-ins are vital. Just like people take their car in for a tune-up or go to the GP for a regular physical, it’s important for clients and advisors to set up a “maintenance schedule” to review their financial plan. That should happen at least every year, or ideally every six months, says Mr. Hamans.
Regardless of that schedule, big life changes or financial events should also trigger a check-in. Looking to downsize? Or buy a vacation property? Making a big career change? Want to help a child out with their first home? Approaching retirement? Talk to your advisor.
An advisor and the plan they help you create acts as your financial roadmap, guiding you through all of life’s stages, big and small. So you always have a plan that’s up-to-date and reflects your current situation and future plans.
“To be a great advisor,” says Mr. Hamans, “you have to understand everything that’s going on in the client’s life to help meet their financial goals.”
ATB Wealth consists of a range of financial services provided by ATB Financial and certain of its subsidiaries. ATB Investment Management Inc., ATB Securities Inc., and ATB Insurance Advisors Inc. are individually licensed users of the registered trade name ATB Wealth. ATB Securities Inc. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.
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