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There five questions you should ask when determining who manages your money.

Who manages your money?

There five questions you should ask when determining who manages your money.

Are you planning on going on holiday this summer? If so, the chances are you have been planning and researching for some months.

  • Do you go short haul or long haul or do you stay at home and enjoy the local scenery?
  • Will it be a relaxing beach holiday or a cultural visit, or adventurous?
  • How much do you want to spend, who do you go with and for how long?
  • Are there any travel restrictions to consider?
  • Do I need vaccinations, visas, insurance?

Whilst planning a holiday is clearly important and will inevitably enhance the pleasure and reduce the likelihood of disappointment, the truth is that many people still spend more time planning their holiday than they do planning their finances.

This is nothing new of course. In the mid 1990’s Allied Dunbar, A UK life insurance company ran an advert called Lets Face the Music and Dance, named after the Fred Astaire hit of the same name. At the same time, Charles Schwab in the US ran an advertising campaign whose strapline was “Are you too busy earning a living to make any money?”.

I am of course showing my age in remembering these campaigns whilst I was already an (admittedly younger) financial advisor. However, the reality has not changed in the last 30 years; many, if not most of us, do spend more time planning our holiday than our finances.

National Procrastination Week

The phenomenon is so common that there is even a week named National Procrastination Week.

Of course financial planning is so much more than just managing your money, and should include broader matters such as life insurance, will writing and estate planning and, for those who have worked outside Switzerland at some stage, pension planning.

But choosing your financial planner is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make – it can make a profound difference upon life’s trajectory. Hoping they have the answers isn’t enough, you need to be absolutely clear about the questions you need to ask.

Let’s imagine you are now in a room with a person you’ve never met. A prospective adviser. This meeting will define the course of your future.

You are allowed to ask five questions, so what should they be?

1. What’s your investment philosophy?
This is another way of saying ‘are you right for me?’ and it matters because a good, professional adviser will step back if you’re not a good fit for each other (where a lesser one may just take the business).

Ask about their investment philosophy and the principles that underpin it. If you agree, great – but you don’t have to.

2. What does financial planning mean?
It’s a relationship and ideally a long one at that. Your relationship with your financial adviser is a long-term commitment that may even last beyond your lifetime. It’s important to understand how they see this potentially lifelong, problem-solving, possibility-capturing partnership in the years and decades to come.

For example, you should ask whether they will update your long term financial plan each year so you stay on track, maintaining focus on your financial and life goals and adapting to any changes in your life?

3. What’s your succession plan?
A long relationship needs a succession plan in place. Will someone else be able to step in and continue working towards your financial goals with the same level of understanding and expertise, should something happen to this adviser?

4. Will you always act in my best interests?
If a friend neglects to tell you that your jumper is on inside out, they probably want to spare your feelings. But if you then go out and address a roomful of people at a conference, your friend’s good intentions didn’t help you at all.

It’s not always easy to be candid with people, but a good adviser will be. Telling uncomfortable truths about your money, instead of comforting lies, is part of the role of a financial advisor. You need to know your adviser will celebrate your successes, but also tell you when you’re wrong.

5. What are your fees?
There’s no point in avoiding this question and in fact a good adviser feels the same. Here transparency is key.


All aggregated fees are essential to know and get in writing. Get it out of the way early and enjoy a healthy and respectful relationship in the future. However, remember that cheap parachutes, fire extinguishers and brain surgery aren’t always the best option. Likewise nobody likes to overpay, but what is fair and what represents good value to you?

In summary, it is really about a meeting of minds; appointing someone to manage your money and help plan your future can be daunting, but it’s important to take the time to ask these questions and more if you want clarity, confidence and control.

It’s not about trying to outsmart the person across the desk from you, but rather finding a partner who will be by your side along your journey. You could think of it like employing a mountain guide, whose job is to assist you in reaching your financial summit, providing support, knowledge, navigation advice and, not least, motivation along the way.

Of course, you should feel free to ask your potential adviser as many questions as you like; it’s crucial that you feel comfortable with them, so the more you talk, the more you’ll come to understand what makes them tick.

However, time-poor people, those who are ‘too busy earning a living to make any money’ often do little or no research before meeting a financial adviser. The result is having to trust your gut instinct to make a decision. This is normally the worst way, as charismatic salespeople with hidden conflicts can often prey upon the ‘personal relationship’.

Boiling it down to five key questions is an exercise in discipline, but remember, this meeting may well define the course of your future and the outcome depends on the questions you’re going to ask.

If you don’t find ‘the one’, then your search for a great financial adviser must continue.

Make an appointment now

At Blackden Financial we have been advising our clients in Switzerland for the past two decades on just such decisions, so for a no obligation meeting call, +41 22 755 0800, by e mail info@blackdenfinancial.com or complete our Contact Form here

One of our team will contact you and arrange a suitable time to discuss how our service can work for you, and how to get the ball rolling.

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