About the Expert
Phil Wheat began working in the financial services field right out of college and in 1996 established his own registered investment advisory firm. The firm grew and in 2013, he welcomed Lori Givens. Together as Wheat-Givens Financial they take a team approach to assuring their clients receive sound financial planning and investment management services to realize financial security and enjoy a robust life.
About the Expert
Lori Givens joined the firm in early 2013. With her background in information technology, along with her financial services licenses and credentials, she serves alongside Phil to manage client accounts and run the firm from an operations standpoint offering Wheat-Givens clients a true team approach.
Why do I need a financial advisor?
Lori—A qualified financial advisor acts like a coach helping you make good financial decisions, helping you consider outcomes and options you may not have realized were open to you. A professional trained to analyze all the pieces of your financial life such as estate planning, insurance coverage, and investment management. Anyone can benefit from partnering with a holistic advisor offering comprehensive financial services.
How should I go about choosing a financial advisor?
Phil—Think about selecting a financial advisor as you would a primary healthcare physician. The way each of these professionals advises you and works with you will impact your quality of life. Just as you would with a doctor, you want to inquire about a financial advisor’s professional credentials, length of time and experience in their specific field, general processes for determining the needs of those they serve, and how they arrive at solutions to meet those needs.
How can I find an investment advisor who’s not going to try to “hard sell” me?
Lori—Our advice is to strongly consider using advisors who manage diversified investment portfolios. They should build and manage such a portfolio to fit your specific needs, and care for your portfolio in an ongoing manner. Schedule a free consultation. Ask if the advisor is a fiduciary—someone who’s ethically and legally bound to put your interests in front of their own. Then, go with your gut. If you’re not comfortable with the advisor and their recommendations, move on. If you don’t understand the basics, pros, and cons of an investment, you shouldn’t invest in it. You don’t have to know everything, but you should be able to explain how the investment works (how much you’re investing, for how long, risks, barriers to liquidity and how you make money) to your best friend.
What professional credentials should I look for?
Phil—Proper family financial advisory service should be holistic. Ideally, you want to find an individual who’s put in the time to achieve meaningful credentials that fit their profession. In the financial advisory profession, three of these are CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, also indicated as CFP®, Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) and Certified Estate and Trust Specialist (CES™). Credentials help indicate the advisor is qualified to perform the planning and follow through to achieve critical financial goals for you.
Why is it important to understand the financial advisor’s processes for dealing with those they serve?
Lori—Every client is unique— as they are now and as their lives will evolve. Your financial advisor’s processes should include ongoing awareness of your unique situation and how your financial plan can continually be appropriate. Ongoing and open communication is key. Just as your doctor performs routine check-ups to stay current with your health then responds with appropriate healthcare recommendations, your financial advisor should do the same, checking in with you often and making adjustments, when it benefits you to do so.
How often will you review my investment?
Phil—This varies by advisor. At our firm, we do a complete portfolio review every month for all portfolios we manage and send each client a report of our results. Many advisors use an “annual review” as their main point of contact with a client. Some meet as frequently as quarterly. Advisors who genuinely manage your investments and pay attention to market fluctuations know monthly reviews with as-needed recommendations for adjustments are the best way to take the appropriate action at the appropriate time. When you’re interviewing an advisor, asking the frequency of their reviews of your accounts is crucial. Markets change every day—some days more than others—and much can happen in a week or a month. Making changes based on the calendar means you may miss an opportunity to improve your returns. Do that enough and your future self may be disappointed.
Am I too young or too old to partner with a financial advisor?
Lori—No, to both of those scenarios. If you’re still early in your working career, a financial advisor can offer you proper perspective of what it will take to reach your financial goals and help you make informed decisions about those regular paychecks. Especially when you’re thinking about staring a family, they can help you consider all that might entail. Likewise, it’s never too late to partner with a financial advisor. It’s important to manage your finances properly, especially if you haven’t saved as much as you’d hoped. A financial advisor can provide you with ideas on how to stretch what you do have. If you have adequate resources, it’s still a good idea to have somebody in your corner, as you age, to protect you from fraud.
How long is the average retirement and how can I know I’m prepared?
Phil—Of course, this depends on when you retire. With the retirement studies we do for clients, we start with life expectancies of age 90 for males and age 100 for females. The average retirement ranges from about 20 to 30 years. The average career is about 43 years. Planning for a retirement that lasts 2/3 as long as your career takes diligence and planning ahead. Starting early is the best way (and generally most painless way) to assure you have sufficient assets to support the lifestyle you’d like in retirement, as well as any significant medical and care expenses. Your advisor should complete a “where are you now” study of your assets, with a projection that includes longevity beyond what you might think, a reasonable rate of inflation and a conservative return on investments. From there, they can identify ways to fund shortfalls identified or let you know you’re on the right track.
Securities offered through United Planners Financial Services Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory Services are offered through Wheat-Givens Financial, LLC. Wheat-Givens Financial, LLC and United Planners are not affiliated.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the CFP® certification mark, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification mark, and the CFP® certification mark (with plaque design) logo in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.