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Advisor-client relationships: Top 4 things to look for

Professional man and mature woman with smiles on their face looking at a laptop.

An advisor-client relationship is much like a physician-patient relationship: you can get better outcomes if you have a good rapport.

When there’s trust and mutual respect between you and your patient, they will likely be more upfront with the kind of information they provide, which can improve the accuracy of your diagnosis. The same can be said for the advisor-client relationship. As a client, here are four things you should expect from your financial advisor.

1. Competence: A patient who has confidence in their physician’s expertise is more likely to be satisfied with their treatment options, and more likely to follow the instructions they are given. When you work with a financial advisor whom you trust, you will feel more confident about your financial plan and the likelihood of reaching your goals.

The right financial advisor should have relevant education, training, qualifications and experience. It’s important to check because the terms “financial planner” and “financial advisor” are currently unregulated in Canada, except in Quebec.

In Quebec, the designation to look for is “Financial Planner” from the Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF). In the rest of Canada, the Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) designation shows that an advisor has completed the proficiency requirements to be a financial planner.

2. Communication: Do you have a good relationship with your patients? If so, you probably listen when they express their concerns, reassure and comfort them, and provide explanations that reflect their level of understanding.

A financial advisor who can do the same will earn your respect. Your financial advisor should listen to your concerns and goals, fully understand your financial situation and be able to assess your investing personality. Explanations should match your interest and knowledge level.

As a client, you have a responsibility to let your financial advisor know if your life circumstances have changed. Having that open, honest communication can improve the relationship — and most likely your financial outcomes.

3. Shared decision-making: There are some patients who are happy to take their physician’s advice, without trying to understand all the other treatment options. But others want more control — they want detailed information and to be involved in the decision-making. A physician who offers options, explains the pluses and minuses of the options, and then helps their patients determine what they want to do is more likely to achieve higher levels of patient satisfaction and cooperation.

As in the medical field, once your financial advisor understands your goals and priorities, they can help you determine what you want, present the options and give you the final say. This kind of shared decision-making often results in a very successful advisor-client relationship.

4. Specialist care: A primary-care physician plays an invaluable role in the lives of their patients — managing their symptoms and conditions, and providing care for their overall health. A primary-care physician takes in the whole picture and, when necessary, refers their patients to appropriate medical specialists.

A financial advisor plays a similar role. Your advisor looks at your overall situation and risk profile and works with you to create a comprehensive financial plan — one that covers everything from managing your budget to decisions about incorporation.

If required, your advisor can connect you with specialists to help you meet all of your financial needs — that could include an insurance consultant, estate and trust advisor, lawyer, tax advisor and mortgage specialist.

Contact an MD Advisor* today to create or update your financial plan, an important tool for ensuring that you enjoy all of life’s possibilities.

* MD Advisor refers to an MD Management Limited Financial Consultant or Investment Advisor (in Quebec), or an MD Private Investment Counsel Portfolio Manager.