A new client recently was asking many questions in a meeting, ending with one about whether there are ways to see their account directly from the brokerage firm in addition to the portal that we provide. He said, "As a lawyer, I like to double check everything." And he ended by saying, "I trust you enough to ask this of you." This got me thinking about gifts that occur in a reciprocal planning relationship.
Trust your adviser enough to ask questions. Your adviser may have more experience or technical knowledge, but there is no one on Earth who understands you better than you understand yourself. Don't worry about things you "should" know. Most people don't have a sense of what they really are spending, are not clear on how they want to deal with money issues within the family, and often don't have direct experience with such things as taxes, investing, or estate planning. Rather than shy away from asking questions, trust your adviser to give thoughtful answers. If the answers are not ones with which you feel comfortable, ask again until you do. Sometimes advisers may give a bad answer because they misunderstood the question. Sometimes they may use terms with which you are not familiar. And sometimes their answers are bad because they don't have a really good one. Ask enough questions to get comfortable, and if you are never comfortable, then trust yourself on that.
Give someone the chance to say no. There are many times in our financial lives when we don't wish to be a burden to others, but by not asking for what you would like, you may be depriving someone a chance to help in a way that is far better than you doing it yourself. If the adviser cannot say no to something that doesn't make sense for them to be doing, that is not your problem. The other problem with not asking is that you may build up resentment for something that could have been fixed earlier. If you are not being clear about your needs, it can be difficult to meet them.
Get to yes more quickly. I always tell couples that if you know you are going to eventually say yes, say it sooner. This makes everyone feel better. Don't prove a point by withholding something you are going to do anyway. You certainly need to think things through to get comfortable, but then move ahead.
A good advisory relationship can reap huge benefits, but it's important to feel comfortable asking questions, asking for what you want, and acting on it sooner.
Spend your life wisely.
Ross Levin is the chief executive & founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina.