Finances

6 questions to ask a financial advisor

financial-advisor-questions

A question that I often hear from new dentists is: Do I need a financial advisor in addition to an accountant/CPA?

With the accountancy landscape changing dramatically due to technology, the role of an accountant is inevitably changing. In the field of accounting, flexibility and technical skills reap career benefits for professionals.

Accounting careers are thriving with new technology, thanks to big data, analysis tools, and workplace efficiencies:

  • Investment Accountant: Investors still value human advice highly
  • Strategic Planner: Analysis tools allow for insights from real-time data
  • Tax Specialist: Advanced tax software reduces margins of error and helps clients avoid penalties
  • Risk Management Specialist: Risk analysis on technological processes has become imperative for organizations

It is, therefore, well worth comparing the future of an accountant vs financial advisor. An accountant could possibly give you a more in-depth analytical overview of your expenses and advise you on how to invest your surplus income. But definitely compare the trends of an accountant vs financial advisor to get the best idea possible.

The answer always depends on a lot of factors (including one’s personal financial wealth going into dental school), but the vast majority of starting dentists may not need a true financial advisor until they accumulate some substantial wealth. With that said, if you need particular help with personal investments or personal budgeting as you start to work, there are certain things that you should be prepared to ask any potential financial advisor upon an initial meeting. These questions are also great to keep in mind if you are meeting with a professional service provider for the first time, such as your accountant or attorney:

  • Are you a fiduciary? A fiduciary has a special responsibility above a non-fiduciary. A fiduciary must have a client’s best interest ahead of any other interests. They also must disclose certain things to clients, such as what their fees are, how they are paid and any conflicts of interest that might exist.
  • Will you charge me? The answer is almost always yes. The better question to ask is: How will you charge me? What will your fees be based on? Here, transparency is key.
  • What licenses and certifications do you have?
  • Do you specialize in the health care or dental fields?
  • Can you provide me with a sample financial plan? Ask to see a sample of their work. Also inquire as to whether they have investment minimums or whether they only help with investing/managing money or if they will also help with personal budgeting.
  • How frequently do you connect with your clients proactively? This may seem simple, but when you are a busy practicing dentist, it will become ever important that your financial and tax advisors are proactive with you. This gives you peace of mind and assurance that everything you need will be handled in a timely fashion.

What other questions do you think are important to ask when meeting with a financial advisor for the first time? Let us know in the comments section below.

~Megan Mathers, J.D., Mathers Law

Megan Mathers

Megan is an accountant and tax attorney with Mathers Law, a firm focused on providing accounting, tax, business advisory and legal services to the dental and medical communities. Megan earned her Bachelor's Degree in Accounting from Marquette University and her law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Megan's practice focuses on tax compliance, tax planning and wealth and estate planning.

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