I can’t tell you how much it pains me when a parent doesn’t understand how a financial advisor works or what they’re recommending, and then the advisor decides to make a sale, a loan or an investment.
The risk of that happens more often than you might think.
A report released by a financial services company last week found that for every 100,000 parents with kids, 4.5 will lose their financial advisor.
The biggest reason is that the market is so unpredictable.
“It’s hard to predict the future,” said Chris Sommers, the founder and CEO of Fidelity Investments.
“There are so many variables and so many unknowns.”
A lot of this unpredictability comes from the fact that there’s not a standardized process for assessing an advisor, said Sommer.
In the U.S., for example, an advisor is usually an independent firm that can offer different recommendations based on the individual’s financial situation and the individual family’s needs.
But in Canada, there’s no set-in-stone way to evaluate the accuracy of financial advisors, said Mark Lefebvre, director of research and policy for the Canadian Association of Financial Advisers.
“You have to ask the questions, and that can be a little bit of a challenge for some parents,” he said.
The report says the average age of advisors is 30, and the average number of clients is about 400,000.
Lefemere says there are about 100,0000 people in the U, and about 20,000 in the Canada.
It also found that more than one-third of parents surveyed have a financial adviser they feel comfortable with.
Sommars said there are also a lot of people who don’t trust the advisor, or who are not comfortable having them, because they may be a fraud.
That’s why many people are using advisors from companies like Equifax and Bank of America.
“They are a lot more transparent than other advisors because you can see where the money comes from,” Sommes said.
Advisers can also offer personalized financial advice based on your child’s specific needs, but some can be less accurate than others, said Lefemer.
That means parents can expect to get advice based solely on the financial situation of their child, he said, and not on their individual needs.
Advisors that offer recommendations based solely or mainly on the family’s income and assets also tend to be more accurate than those that focus on their child’s needs, said Matt McDonough, chief economist at CIBC World Markets.
Adviser recommendations tend to have a higher return than individual financial decisions, which are typically based on market fundamentals, said McDonohs.
Advisment providers like Equivocate, Bank of Canada, Bankrate.com and Sommestars say their advice will be based on their own financial information and the needs of their clients.
But, McDonoghs said, they can’t guarantee that any financial advice will result in a particular outcome.
“The advice we provide to our clients is based on our own research and information and it’s always based on those factors,” he wrote in an email.
For instance, some advisers suggest clients make a list of their financial goals, like paying off their student loans or taking care of their kids’ medical bills, but those goals are not always achievable.
“If your goal is not attainable, then you are wasting your time and you’re not going to achieve your goals,” said Sombre.
And if your goal does not match what you’ve set, then your adviser is not the right advisor for you.
For example, if your son has been struggling with his finances because of the weather, and your adviser says he should work on it, you’re going to have to do more work to make that happen, said Michael Sowden, president and CEO at Equivolve.
You may be looking for a company that offers a financial planning service that will help you manage your financial goals.
But if your child is struggling with their finances because they’ve missed out on a vacation or missed a job, they might want to use an adviser that offers more specific financial advice, said Darnell Pritchard, CEO of Bankrate Financial.
That may mean focusing on specific financial objectives like paying down debt, paying off a down payment, or paying off your mortgage.
“That kind of advice can be the best for you,” he told Recode.
But other advisors can be more specific than you’re used to, he added.
“Some advisors are just more specific, and those may be the things you’re looking for,” he explained.
For more on the growing crisis, visit Recode’s Kids video.