It seems like I have to beg and plead like I did when I was 16 and wanted $20 for a date. What should I do?


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Question: I am 66 years old. I never had a financial adviser until my sister left me an inheritance 8 years ago. In that time, the first adviser changed firms 3 times before going out on his own. The current adviser was my oldest sister’s adviser until she passed away 2 years ago. I also put $30,000 in his control when I retired last spring. But when I want to withdraw from either adviser, it seems like I have to beg and plead like I did when I was 16 and wanted $20 for a date. What should I do?

Answer: Your situation is concerning on a number of levels. It is worth a conversation with your current adviser — and you may decide you need to find a new one. (You can use this tool to get matched with a financial adviser who may meet your needs.)

If your financial adviser isn’t treating you with respect, that’s a good indication that it’s time to find a new adviser. “You have a right to an adviser who acts in your best interest, treats you with respect and helps you understand your money. An advice-only CFP will teach you how to manage your money without taking over control of your accounts, which may be a better option for you since you’ll no longer have to ask an adviser when you want to withdraw money,” says independent adviser representative at financial planning firm Childfree Wealth. 

Have an issue with your financial adviser or looking for a new one? Email [email protected].

Even if your adviser stands to experience an income decline because they charge a percentage of your assets under management, that’s not an adequate reason for them to dissuade you from withdrawing your money. “It’s essential to remember that this money is entirely yours and the adviser’s job is to guide you, not make your life difficult or put their interests ahead of their own,” says certified financial planner Alonso Rodriguez Segarra at Advise Financial. 

There may be less-sinister reasons why your adviser isn’t readily giving you access to your money. “It could be invested in a financial product that is laden with fees and penalties for taking early withdrawals,” says certified financial planner Brian Waldner at Deeper Roots. 

It’s also possible that when you received the inheritance it was put in a trust with stipulations regarding how and when the money can be accessed. You should ask your adviser or an estate planning attorney to explain exactly how your inheritance is set up and what limitations there are, if any, in terms of making withdrawals.

Whatever the reasons, it’s clear your adviser isn’t communicating effectively with you — and that can be a dealbreaker. Waldner recommends scheduling a meeting with your current adviser to discuss your concerns openly. “Clearly express your expectations and the reasons behind your frustration and dissatisfaction. It would be my hope that effective communication can help address misunderstandings or issues that have arisen,” says Waldner. 

But it may not. If you do decide to look for a new adviser, consider looking for a CFP because they undergo extensive education and coursework in addition to completing thousands of hours of work-related experience. CFPs are also legally-bound fiduciaries, meaning they’re required to put your best interests ahead of their own, minimizing the potential for conflicts of interest. “You should find someone who offers you a strategy and suggests the amount of money you might need for your life and day to day activities. Always remember that these are just suggestions and the choice and last call is always yours as it’s your money,” says Segarra.

You don’t mention whether your adviser is a fiduciary, but it may be worth looking them up on FINRA’s BrokerCheck site or the SEC’s Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD). “We could find out if this person has any professional training such as the CFP designation or a degree in financial planning,” says Waldner.

Experts recommend interviewing 2 to 3 financial advisers before hiring one. “Even if someone is a great doctor, they need to have a great bedside manner and it sounds like your advisers do not. You should absolutely look for a fee-only, fiduciary adviser through XY Planning Network, Garrett Planning Network or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). Your adviser should be your advocate and partner and you should feel confident and comfortable telling them that you’re feeling awkward in asking for a withdrawal,” says certified financial planner Amir Noor at United Financial Planning Group. If you do decide to seek out a new adviser, be sure to consult this list of questions to ask prospective advisers. 

Know too, that many advisers offer free initial consultations which might help you gain some perspective. “Seek a second opinion from another financial adviser as a consultation with an independent professional might provide insights into whether your current approach aligns with your financial objectives, needs and wants,” says Waldner.

Think of a financial adviser like a coach. “You tell them what you’re trying to accomplish and they’ll tell you what they think you need to do to get there,” says certified financial planner Anthony Ferreira at WorthPointe Wealth Management. If your spending is inconsistent with your stated goals, it’s helpful to have an adviser who can remind you of your goals and point out how your spending may prevent you from reaching them. “Your adviser should not be making it difficult for you but rather guiding you and reminding you about your stated goals. If your spending is in line with your stated goals then the adviser should not hinder you in any way. I encourage my clients to enjoy the fruits of their labor,” says Ferreira.

Have an issue with your financial adviser or looking for a new one? Email [email protected].

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