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The wealth management industry suffers no shortage of jargon, opaqueness, or “experts” willing to deploy their services. The difficulty in selecting a wealth manager who is able to best direct financial decisions is often only surpassed by the importance of receiving premium advice.

Advisor selection (or advisor retention) should consist of the following considerations:

1. Does this advisor have the proven intellectual capability and knowledge to guide my financial life?

Investigate the advisor’s background and credentials, ranging from an undergraduate discipline to corporate experience to professional designations. For the latter, consider that even after taking an average of over 1,000 hours of rigorous study and a minimum of four years of professional experience, fewer than 1 in 5 candidates become a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder. CFA charterholders have mastered the art and science of securities analysis, asset allocation, and portfolio management skills. Investors need the confidence that an advisor can handle the breadth and depth of issues underpinning your financial objectives.

2. Do I (as the client) have unfettered / unrestricted access to my own money?

Your advisor using an independent custodian should be a table stake, meaning you are at least receiving a quarterly statement from an objective organization such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity, or Shareholder Services Group, for example. However, many advisors still create artificial barriers between you and your money, with the sole intent being to make your departure as difficult as possible. Often, their hope is that inertia will continue to rule, while at a minimum forcing you to have that unpleasant and somewhat confrontational discussion about leaving. If you are unhappy with your current advisor for any reason (too little communication or too much, poor returns, poor strategy, high costs, or anything else), then you should be able to ‘regain’ your money absent any hassle; think of the relative ease in onboarding after selecting a wealth manager – any migrations away should be painless as well ; let the amount of friction serve as another influence in your choice of continuing professional advisement.

3. Does this advisor provide market comparables for every outcome?

You should be afforded the opportunity to examine how your situation compares with others for every facet of your relationship:

  • Fees paid to the advisor – is this fee-based, commission-based, or something else?
  • Fees paid for the securities – are these fair relative to similar allocations you could be pursuing? Any sales loads? Any ongoing fees?
  • Portfolio gains and losses – are these easily explained?
  • Risks within your portfolio – instead of receiving performance-only measures, am I aware of the risk burden carried?
  • Comparable portfolios – how are you (the advisor) invested?

Most, if not all, of these considerations should be reported in a concise manner, preferably in the form of a “dashboard” that is easily decipherable, not overwhelming, and serves as a single source of important measures.

4. What will our interactions look like?

All aforementioned considerations may diminish if the personal interactions aren’t replete with clear communication, professionalism, and at a frequency (monthly, quarterly, or impromptu) or medium (digital, phone, or in-person) you desire. While far too often an advisor is selected based upon personality instead of competence, the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. You are selecting the wealth manager, you are the client, and the wealth being discussed is yours. Demand better.

At Ascendance Wealth, results matter. Our highly-qualified team is led by a CFA charterholder who oversee entire portfolio, communicate with clients on regular basis. Ascendance wealth also provides innovative wealth dashboards for clients to monitor their progress independently.

If you would like to learn more about selecting a wealth manager for the first time, or are simply curious about receiving a second opinion regarding your current investment strategy, simply call 303.720.3279 or email All initial consultations are free, will contain neither sales pitches nor contracts, and can be at the Ascendance Wealth office or another location of your choosing

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