Best Financial Advisors and Investment Advisors in Utah…

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 Do you want the “Best” Investment/Financial Advisor,
or the best salesperson?

Have you wondered who the BEST Financial Advisors or Investment Advisors are?


If you were to walk into the lavish offices of one of the Investment firms in one of those ‘expensive’ office buildings in downtown Salt Lake City, and asked the receptionist to speak with their ‘BEST Financial Advisor’ they would probably ask how much money you had in order to ‘size you up’, and if you ‘pass the test’, they would call the advisor in the firm that sells the most product, but is that what you asked for?

According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, the definition of “BEST” is:
adjective ?best
: better than all others in quality or value
: most skillful, talented, highest rated performance
: most productive of good :  offering or producing the greatest advantage, utility, or satisfaction

When a person wants to find the “best” Financial or Investment advisor, what is it they are truly looking for? Is it the Advisor that ‘SELLS’ the most product? If you were the sales manager of the firm that employs that advisor, your answer would be yes. BUT IS IT YOUR answer as a client? Do you want a salesman with a sales quota to keep their job, or a Financial/Investment Advisor with Fiduciary Responsibility to you? Something else to consider is ULTRA LOW fees without sacrificing safety, as Warren Buffet recently said.

Aren't the “Best Financial/Investment Advisors”, the advisors who have a broad background in TRUE investment/portfolio analysis and trend forecasting, with emphasis on Global Markets, Engineering and efficiency structures? All of this and more play an important role in any investment and market evaluation.

Experience is the key in finding the "BEST" in many disciplines, Economic Market Analysis and Financial Advising/Planning is no different. I’m not talking about combined investment firm experience either, which is a common marketing trick. This sneaky, but legal marketing tactic of combining the number of years of staff experience is irrelevant. If a firm has 100 advisors all having 1 year of experience are you impressed if that firm touts “100 years’ experience”? Are you going to choose one of those Advisors?  Probably not.

In addition to analytics, an Advisor should plainly and accurately advise you on a broad array of life change events without a fee at every turn, OR NO FEE AT ALL. Maybe you’re a business owner wanting to sell your business? Or you have a great product idea and want advice on how to launch the product. Perhaps you just lost your job, or have changed jobs and don’t want to keep your 401K assets at your previous employer? Maybe you want to buy a foreclosed or short sale property and rent it out, or "flip" it?  Maybe your child is planning on entering college, and you haven’t saved a penny. Divorce? Death of a Spouse?

There are many life situations that call for good financial advice. With the right LIFE CHANGE advice, without fee, you can save thousands of dollars by avoiding some of the standard pitfalls others fall into, and regret later. Saving money is more than putting money in a jar or savings account. It is much better than the return on an investment, especially if you’re in a high tax bracket. So seek out the Financial Advisor that can both save you money, and manage your investments.

Many firms prohibit their advisors from advising in matters outside of the firm’s scope or "product line". If it doesn't make the firm money, they don't want you wasting time advising on it no matter how important it is to anyone. It’s ironic that the large firms' fear of being sued degrades their utility in helping their clients with everyday financial matters.  If you found an experienced advisor in real estate matters, and they showed you how to buy foreclosed or ‘short sale’ properties, would you consider them to be a better advisor than the advisor at the large firm who is prohibited from dealing in such matters because there's no commission in it? 

Psychology plays a HUGE part in the mistakes people make in choosing a Financial Advisor (FA). Large firms have been using "VANITY" and "EGO" for years to attract clients. If you choose the FA based on the lavishness or size of the firm they are affiliated with ‘because it impresses you, OR is impressive to others’, what are you expecting to be different, than choosing a FA at a small independent firm, provided the same SIPC, SEC, State Securities Division, and FINRA safeguards for both FA’s is in effect? Are your accounts any safer by choosing a large firm? No, small firms are bound by the same Fiduciary and regulatory requirements as large firms. BUT What if the large firm implements large production requirements from their advisor’s? Large commissions are needed to maintain the large overhead, and lavish offices. Is the FA’s job at stake should their production fall below a certain level? Would this cause the FA to possibly manage your account differently, to sell you something with a higher commission? So, ask yourself, “Is my intention to do business with a large firm based in Vanity, or logic”?

Another example of vanity is choosing a Financial Advisor with the most clients. Is the Financial Advisor with the most clients the best? One of the Hallmark regulations that govern a Financial Advisor is FINRA rule 2090, The “Know your client rule”. This has been the number one Federal case violation and complaint lodged by clients for years.  How does a Financial Advisor with over 300 clients hope to know each client’s changing situation? True, they can know their income, employment, marital status, number of kids as they read over their file when they meet with you initially, but people’s lives change. If the Advisor, who is supposed to abide by Rule 2090 has too many clients, how can they keep up with these life changes for every client?

Let’s say you go to a Financial Advisor with 500 plus clients and ask them if they manage all their client accounts personally, and they reply with, “no, I have assistants that manage most of them, I just manage the millionaires”, doesn’t this revelation make the idea of seeking out the Advisor with the most clients irrelevant? Many large and small firms operate this way. These are called “Figure Head" firms. This also plays a big part if your Figure Head Financial Advisor retires. At this time they usually sell their book of clients to another Figure Head Firm for a lot of money, but does this new Figure Head know you? Did you have a say in this sale? No. But you do have the power of choosing who works for you. Your FA is your employee.

Taking time out of yours, and your spouses day to meet with a Financial Advisor sounds grueling and the Financial Services industry is full of boring terms making the search more grueling. For me to suggest meeting with as many Financial Advisors as it takes to find one that meets ALL of the aforementioned criteria sounds absolutely insane. To this I warn that true insanity is expecting to have a great retirement by depending on a malfeasant inept Financial Advisor, rather than taking the time to find a great one, And remember, Great, doesn't mean expensive, or arrogant. Some are wise enough to cut their fees in half, and not impose minimum account sizes.

Annuities have their place sometimes, but according to the SEC they are becoming over utilized at the wrong times and for the wrong reasons. A relevant, and surprising point to make is that, most people that buy an annuity NEVER ANNUITIZE. Why would anyone pay the high fees/commissions and also be locked into a product for the benefit to "annuitize" when most, by far, that buy them never annuitize?  Again back to Psychology, people end up being afraid to lose the control of their money that annuitizing brings. Once you annuitize you lock into a set payment amount each month. You can't request more. There are way too many Financial Advisors selling way too many annuities with only commissions in mind. If you are being sold an annuity, you should seek a second, or third opinion. Many Financial Advisors, and the firms that employ them, like annuities for the big commissions, and the powerful SALES inducement to say they are “GUARANTEED”.  This guarantee is not from the government like the FDIC over Banks, even if you buy the annuity from your neighbor’s kid that works at your bank. It is the Insurance company that guarantees the annuity. AIG is an insurance company, and they almost went bankrupt. These salespeople pushing annuities usually work for large firms and banks that mandate outlandish sales production requirements to keep their jobs. So to meet the quotas handed down by these big bureaucratic, publicly traded firms, that have to answer to shareholders, one has to sell annuities. Customer traffic into the bank branches has greatly declined, thus reducing the prospects for the investment salespeople to meet quotas. Just about every Regional Manager I had when I was a Financial Advisor at the largest firms told me to sell more annuities. An irony to this is that many of these firms had to be bailed out a few years ago for not keeping their own finances in order. Would you take your car to a mechanic that couldn’t keep their own car running?

just because something is legal, doesn’t make it moral to do”

One of the most important things to know when you choose a salesperson instead of an analyst is; if your investments lose 20% the remaining balance will need to earn about 30% just to break even (you have less money now working), NOT to mention the time it will take! What changes would your Advisor make to your account during and after a downturn? Most "sales" advisors don’t do anything. They just ride out the storm, ready to tell you “not to worry” if YOU call them.
There’s no substitute for EXPERIENCE and ANALYTICS!

There are good Physicians, and bad Physicians. Good honest mechanics, and bad mechanics, the Investment/Financial Advisor industry is no different. Respectfully, Don’t be lazy, diligently look for a good Financial Advocate that puts their clients first. They are out there. Implement the things you think are valid in this article.                                                                                          

Click here for many great questions you should ask a potential Financial Advisor.
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