- Financial advisors help people manage their finances and solve complex financial matters.
- Financial advisors are best known for helping with budgeting, tax planning, retirement planning and investing.
- Some financial advisors cater to young adults. They are very familiar with the unique challenges and opportunities associated with this demographic. Using this insight, financial advisors can position young people to save and invest wisely for decades.
- When searching for a financial advisor, focus your attention on experienced, fee-only fiduciaries. They are legally and ethically committed to always act in your best interest.
Why Financial Advising Is Important for Young Adults
A financial advisor is a professional that helps people manage money, assess complex financial matters and establish plans to achieve short- and long-term goals. Advisors provide a variety of services but are best known for their work relating to budgeting, banking, managing debt, optimizing insurance coverages, tax planning, retirement planning, investing and estate planning.
Many people think financial advisors are for relatively wealthy individuals who are deep in their careers and drawing closer to retirement. However, financial advisors can be useful for all people — including young adults.
Young adults face distinct financial challenges, such as establishing an appropriate banking framework, implementing a budget, managing debts and planning for their first big purchases. They also have unique opportunities, such as building financial literacy at a young age, getting an early jump on saving for retirement and investing over a very long horizon.
Financial advisors focused on these challenges and opportunities can help young adults implement robust financial plans designed to optimize their wealth-accumulating potential for decades. The economic results can be incredibly significant.
How a Financial Advisor Can Help Young Adults
Financial advisors can assist young adults in a variety of ways. At a minimum, they can help young people make sense of their finances, develop financial acumen and establish realistic short- and long-term goals. Having the help of a financial advisor can be especially beneficial for young adults in a few different scenarios.
Making Sense of Your Finances
Unless you have a financial background, it is common to struggle with managing your finances — especially as life becomes more complex. A financial advisor can help ease stress, bolster your current state and position you for financial growth and prosperity.
Examples of strategies to manage your finances include: streamlining financial accounts and the associated administration, implementing a personal budget, paying off debts, planning for big purchases, determining appropriate levels of insurance for your family and investing for your future.
Education on Financial Subjects
In addition to directly supporting your financial endeavors, a financial advisor can be an invaluable educational resource. He or she can help explain foundational finance concepts, like the time value of money, compound interest, the risk-return tradeoff and the benefit of diversification.
For those who wish to dive deeper into the world of investing, plenty of educational opportunities exist for subjects such as asset class risk profiles, bull and bear market trends and the merits of passive versus active investing. An advisor can also provide insights into how things work. Perhaps, you want to better understand our progressive income tax system or how retirement and health care tax deductions impact your net pay. An advisor can shed light on all these topics and more.
Assistance with Loans
A financial advisor can help you establish a plan to pay off your debts. This is particularly appealing for young adults, many of whom are struggling to manage their student loans. According to a recent publication issued by the Education Data Initiative, a team of researchers found nearly 44 million Americans are saddled with a collective $1.8 trillion of student debt.
For many of these borrowers, climbing out of the hole is not something they can do on their own. Fortunately, a financial advisor can help you assess your obligations, identify refinancing and consolidation opportunities and formulate a long-term debt elimination plan.
Generally, the earlier you begin saving for retirement, the better positioned you will be by the time you stop working. This statement assumes you implement a sensible retirement plan, invest in appropriate asset classes and dynamically adjust your allocation scheme as you age and your life circumstances change.
Financial advisors can help you implement a sound plan and address issues as they arise. If you stay on track, you could amass a surprising amount of wealth for your retirement years.
What To Look for as a Young Adult Seeking a Financial Advisor
The advisory space is filled with advisors who claim to have in-depth experience and the ability to implement cutting-edge, customized financial plans. However, not all advisors are created equal, and not all are held to the fiduciary standard, which is a legal and ethical commitment that requires advisors to always act in their clients’ best interests.
You should only work with fiduciary advisors. They are paid directly by their clients on a fee-only basis, which means they do not receive any compensation from third parties. As a result, they will never be incentivized to push investment vehicles and insurance products that could counter your investment objectives and tolerance for risk.
Beyond the fiduciary standard, there are a few other key things to look for when seeking a financial advisor that can help you prosper.
Credentials and Certifications
Professional training is a way for an advisor to differentiate himself or herself from competitors. Oftentimes, it is a regulatory requirement to conduct business.
Widely Recognized Certifications
Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
A CPA is licensed to assist with tax planning and filings, audit and assurance matters, bookkeeping, business management, forensic accounting and a variety of other financial planning services via the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) add-on designation.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP)®
A CFP® is an advisor who can help people with financial planning, tax planning, insurance optimization, investing, retirement planning and estate planning.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
A CFA charterholder is a highly-credentialed professional who excels in investment policy formulation, portfolio management, capital budgeting, risk management, asset valuation and statistical modeling.
Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
A ChFC charterholder is like a CFP®, with a service offering that often includes financial planning, tax planning, insurance optimization, investing, retirement planning and estate planning.
Experience with Young Adults
Technically, a qualified financial advisor can competently service clients of any age. However, as is the case with many professional disciplines, specialization tends to provide better results.
This is why it is important for a young adult to work with a financial advisor who has experience working with a younger demographic. It does not have to be an advisor who only works with young adults – there are very few of these. But it should be someone who has experience working with young people and has a solid understanding of their needs.
Transparent Fee Structure
Strive to only work with fiduciary, fee-only financial advisors. They bill clients in various ways, but most charge a percentage of the dollar amount of the investments they manage, also referred to as assets under advisory. Typically, you can expect an annual advisory fee of 1% for investment portfolios of $1 million or less.
For focused engagements that do not involve investment management, many fee-only advisors charge hourly or piecemeal rates for their services. A growing number of advisors embrace this approach for investment management, particularly for high-net-worth clients who resist excessive percentage-based fees, given the large size of their portfolios.
Ultimately, when assessing whether a fee structure is right for you, the key is to make sure it is completely transparent and competitive. This usually requires you to shop around and compare a few offers.
How Can Young Adults Find a Financial Advisor?
If you need help finding a financial advisor who has experience working with young people, consider asking your friends, family members and work colleagues if they have any strong recommendations.
Alternatively, you could find a reputable advisor via the CFP Board, a non-profit organization that sets and enforces standards for the renowned CFP certification. You could also leverage Annuity.org’s free advisor search tool.
Regardless of how you execute your search, remember to focus on finding fiduciary, fee-only financial advisors. Once you’ve identified two or three promising candidates, meet with them (virtually or in-person) to gauge their experience levels, credentials, service offerings and demeanors.
Questions To Ask When Interviewing a Financial Advisor
- What does it mean to be a fiduciary advisor?
- What certifications do you hold?
- How have they enhanced your business?
- What clientele do you primarily serve?
- Do you have experience with young adults?
- What services do you provide?
- What are your areas of expertise?
- Do you maintain strategic relationships to address auxiliary needs?
- How does your process work?
- Can you give me a few case studies demonstrating how you have helped clients?
- Can you verbally walk me through some real-life success stories?
- What fees do you charge?
- How often will we meet? How flexible are you?
Strong advisors will eagerly address these questions and strive to understand you and your needs. At the end of the day, you need an advisor who is highly qualified and puts you at ease. If anything does not feel right during a due diligence meeting, move on and find a better fit.
Editor Malori Malone contributed to this article.