Broker Check

Real Talk: What IS a Financial Advisor?

September 21, 2023

To put it simply, a financial advisor is like a money coach.

They help people and organizations make smart decisions about their finances, like saving for the future, investing wisely, and managing taxes. Their job is to give  advice to help you pursue financial goals.

You might need a money coach to gain expertise and guidance in managing your finances effectively, setting and achieving financial goals, and addressing specific financial challenges or concerns. Money coaches can provide personalized strategies and accountability to help you make better financial decisions and work toward a more secure financial future.

So, what’s the difference between a financial advisor and a stockbroker?

The simplest difference between a stockbroker and a financial advisor is that a stockbroker primarily helps you buy and sell investments, like stocks and bonds, often earning commissions from these transactions.

In contrast, a financial advisor offers a broader range of financial services, including investment advice, but also helps with things like planning for retirement, managing debt, and overall financial well-being. They typically charge fees for their services and are often required to prioritize your best interests.

Got it. That’s great and all, but how do financial advisors do this?

Here at Malecki Financial Group, we use a proven 5-step process for financial advising:

The Malecki Financial Group Difference. A circular infographic with five sections reading the following: Discovery, Analyze current path, develop and share recommendations, implement recommendations, and monitor and update.

Stage 1 - Discovery: In this stage, the advisor gets to know the client's financial situation, goals, and any specific concerns or challenges. They gather information about income, expenses, debts, assets, and financial aspirations to build a comprehensive understanding of the client's financial landscape.

Here we often use our Client Experience Checklist to collect this information in an easy-to-read manner. This checklist provides a comprehensive list of our services, helping guide the advisory process in the right direction.

Stage 2 - Analyze Current Path: After gathering all necessary data, the advisor analyzes the client's current financial situation. This involves assessing their budget, investments, debt, and any existing financial plans to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas that need improvement.

This stage is custom to your specific situation! We will conduct research on your own best courses of action, really digging into the options you have available.

Stage 3 - Develop and Share Recommendations: Based on the analysis from the previous stage, the advisor develops personalized recommendations and a financial plan tailored to the client's goals and needs. They share these recommendations, explaining the strategies and steps required to achieve the client's financial objectives.

Stage 4 - Implement Recommendations: Once the client agrees to the recommendations, the advisor helps them implement the financial plan. This may involve setting up new accounts, adjusting investment portfolios, restructuring debt, or taking specific actions outlined in the plan.

Stage 5 - Monitor and Update: The advisor continues to work with the client to monitor the progress of the financial plan. They track how well the client is following the plan and make adjustments as needed. Life circumstances and financial goals can change over time, so the advisor ensures that the plan remains relevant and effective by updating it as necessary.

Don’t worry, this process is not just a one and done. We can meet as often (or infrequently) as you would like! We offer unlimited calls, texts, and emails to all our clients, so that you can stay up to date with your portfolio between advisory meetings.

These stages form a continuous and iterative process. As clients achieve their goals or face new financial challenges, the advisor assists them in navigating these changes and making informed financial decisions. This ongoing relationship helps clients build and maintain financial security and prosperity over time.

Basically, financial advisors do the research and behind-the-scenes work to make sure your money is in the best place it can be for you.

Wait, then that means the advisor isn’t just doing this in their best interest?

That’s a common concern, wondering whether or not your financial advisor is really doing what’s best for you. But there are individuals out there who are dedicated to serving the clients’ best interests. Ever heard of them?

Well, that’s a fiduciary! At Malecki Financial Group, we pride ourselves on giving our clients the best course of action and acting in the clients’ best interest. We follow the fiduciary standard, controlled by the SEC.

And, our advisors have advanced certifications, ensuring they continue their education to keep working in your best interest. Eric Stiles is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, and Stan J. Malecki is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary®. These titles show that our advisors are always learning to help you better.

What the heck is a CFP®? Or an AIF®?

I’m happy you asked!

In simple terms, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ is a highly trained and certified expert who helps people manage their money wisely. They create personalized plans to help individuals and families reach their financial goals, like saving for retirement, buying a home, or paying off debt. CFP®s are known for their ethical standards and expertise in all things related to money.

Don’t just trust my word, check out this excerpt from their website:

“When you choose a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, you can be assured that you’re working with a financial advisor who has demonstrated competency and made a commitment to ethics. CFP® professionals must successfully complete a multi-year, multi-step process to obtain the skills and real-life experience they need to serve your best interests, no matter what your financial goals are.” From Let’s Make a Plan.

An Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) is a professional designation for individuals who have completed specialized training and education in the field of fiduciary responsibility and investment management. In simpler terms:

Accredited: This means the individual has received formal recognition and accreditation in the specific area of investment fiduciary duties

Investment: An AIF is focused on managing and overseeing investments, which includes making decisions about where to put money to help it grow, often on behalf of clients.

Fiduciary: The term "fiduciary" refers to a high level of trust and responsibility. An AIF® is committed to acting in the best interests of their clients or beneficiaries when making investment decisions.

In essence, an Accredited Investment Fiduciary® is a professional who has received specialized training to responsibly manage investments with the primary goal of protecting and growing the assets of their clients while always prioritizing their clients' best interests.

What are the benefits of working with a financial advisor?

Infographic reading the five headlines: Time Efficiency, Reduced Stress, Enhanced Confidence, Goal Achievement, and Quality of Life. All are associated with the benefits of having a financial advisor.

  1. Time Efficiency: Managing finances can be time-consuming and overwhelming. Financial advisors streamline this process by taking on many tasks, such as researching investment options, analyzing market trends, and handling paperwork. This time savings allows you to focus on what truly matters to you, whether it's spending quality time with family, pursuing your passions, or excelling in your career.
  2. Reduced Stress: Financial decisions often come with a heavy dose of stress, especially when uncertainty looms. Advisors provide a reliable support system, offering expert guidance and helping you navigate complex financial matters. This alleviates the stress and anxiety associated with managing your finances independently, allowing you to enjoy peace of mind and a more relaxed lifestyle.
  3. Enhanced Confidence: Financial advisors bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. Their expertise gives you confidence in your financial decisions, knowing that you're making informed choices based on professional advice. This newfound financial self-assurance empowers you to take control of your financial future and face challenges with resilience.
  4. Goal Achievement: Setting and achieving financial goals is a significant source of personal satisfaction. Financial advisors help you define realistic objectives and create a clear roadmap to reach them. As you make progress toward your financial aspirations, you experience a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, which can positively impact your overall well-being.
  5. Quality of Life: Ultimately, the goal of working with a financial advisor is to enhance your overall quality of life. They help you make the most of your financial resources, enabling you to enjoy the lifestyle you desire. Whether it's planning for a comfortable retirement, securing your family's future, or achieving financial independence, advisors play a pivotal role in helping you attain a better and more fulfilling life.

I thought financial advisors are only for the mega-wealthy?

That’s a common misconception!

Some people believe that financial advisors are primarily concerned with managing large investment portfolios or working with high-net-worth individuals. In reality, financial advisors can assist individuals at various income and wealth levels!

They provide valuable financial guidance to help people achieve a wide range of financial goals, from managing debt and saving for a home to planning for retirement and creating a comprehensive financial strategy.

Financial advisors can be beneficial for anyone seeking to make informed financial decisions and improve their financial well-being, regardless of their current financial status. They offer valuable guidance to achieve diverse financial goals, whether it's handling debt, saving for a home, planning for retirement, or creating a solid financial strategy.

Okay, how do I choose the right financial advisor for me?

Let’s break it down:

To select the right financial advisor, start by clearly defining your financial goals and needs. Understand the various advisor types and their qualifications, checking their credentials, experience, and track record.

Ensure you feel comfortable with and trust the advisor, and be aware of their fee structure and services offered. You can find ours in our Services Overview! If investment management is important to you, discuss their investment philosophy. We value the long term.

Verify their regulatory history and interview multiple advisors to compare.

Get a written agreement detailing services, fees, and terms, and trust your instincts when choosing the one that aligns best with your financial goals and values.

I know it’s a lot, but this is money we’re talking about! You have to be sure you’re making the best decisions for you. Are you ready?

What’s the next steps?

Call us! 732-248-9400

I know, scary right? But seriously, the next step is to book your complimentary initial consultation with Malecki Financial Group to get started on your financial confidence journey. Our scheduling coordinator, Kara McClean, will reach out to you to schedule! Wanna send an email? That works too.

Want to learn more before booking? That works too. Check out our comprehensive Client Center on our website!