financial advisor, Retirement

Our first meeting with a financial advisor.

photo of person holding black pen
Photo by

Since retirement is now  4.5 – 5 years away, Joe and I thought it might be time to consult with a financial advisor to find out if we are on the right track with our money.

We started the search for an advisor on Google, and found a fee only advisor in our area.  Although his rate was a hefty $300/hr., he did offer a free initial consultation.  We made an appointment.

Joe and I felt prepared for the meeting.  Armed with a solid base of personal finance knowledge and a list of questions, we anticipated a productive meeting.  As it turned out,  the meeting was quite a disappointment.  Most of the questions we had didn’t get answered, and several other factors led us to the conclusion that this particular advisor was not for us.

  1. His credentials.   He was a CPA with Bear Stearns before he became a financial advisor seven years ago.  He told us most of his clients were his family.  Red flag No. 1.
  2. He was ULTRA conservative (and I don’t mean politically).  We told him we had one investment that we didn’t need to withdraw from for at least 12 years. We felt confident, based on historical data, that it could average 8% as long as we left it moderately invested.  He looked at us and laughed.  He told us we were being way too optimistic.  He believed, at best, we could earn 4%.   (Hmmm, I’m not sure, but I would bet he got burned big time at Bear Stearns We told him we had already been averaging 8-10% over the past 15 years (which included 2008), and we felt we were already investing conservatively.   He told us we were the exception to the rule, and it was hard for him to believe that it would continue.  (Looking at the chart below, you can see the actual returns over the last 13 years.) 
    NASDAQ Composite – Historical Annual Data
    Year Average
    Closing Price
    Year Open Year High Year Low Year Close Annual
    % Change
    2019 7,575.92 6,665.94 8,164.00 6,463.50 7,742.10 16.68%
    2018 7,425.96 7,006.90 8,109.69 6,192.92 6,635.28 -3.88%
    2017 6,235.30 5,429.08 6,994.76 5,429.08 6,903.39 28.24%
    2016 4,987.79 4,903.09 5,487.44 4,266.84 5,383.12 7.50%
    2015 4,945.55 4,726.81 5,218.86 4,506.49 5,007.41 5.73%
    2014 4,375.10 4,143.07 4,806.91 3,996.96 4,736.05 13.40%
    2013 3,541.29 3,112.26 4,176.59 3,091.81 4,176.59 38.32%
    2012 2,965.74 2,648.72 3,183.95 2,648.36 3,019.51 15.91%
    2011 2,677.44 2,691.52 2,873.54 2,335.83 2,605.15 -1.80%
    2010 2,349.89 2,308.42 2,671.48 2,091.79 2,652.87 16.91%
    2009 1,845.39 1,632.21 2,291.28 1,268.64 2,269.15 43.89%
    2008 2,161.68 2,609.63 2,609.63 1,316.12 1,577.03 -40.54%
    2007 2,578.47 2,423.16 2,859.12 2,340.68 2,652.28 9.81%

    ***We didn’t realize how conservative we were investing until 2008, when we lost -12% instead of the -40.54%.  It had more than recovered one year later, and we have subsequently taken on a little more risk.

  3. He was upselling multiple services.  Besides offering to manage our portfolio (with an upcharge of 1% to do it) he felt we needed an attorney to handle our estate.  He had “partnered” with one, and would be more than happy to set up the appointment.  Besides his fee of $1,000 to change all of our investments to only realize a 4% gain (3% if we use his services), we could pay another $1,500, to have the attorney ‘dot our i’s and cross our t’s’.  Really?
  4. Lastly, he was condescending.  This advisor questioned everything we have done to prepare for retirement.  And not in the way one questions a person to gather information.  He challenged everything we did or are planning on doing as though we have no clue.  The best one? “Why would you want to retire so young??”   Suffice it to say, I was having none of it, and we will not be calling him back.

    adult blur boss business
    Photo by

Although this first advisor meeting was a bust, we will continue to meet with different advisors (as long as the initial consultation is free).  But, if we can’t find one we like, we will continue to read, study and learn all about our own investments, and figure it out for ourselves.  After all, you are your best advocate when it comes to your money, right?

If you use a financial advisor or have in the past, please share your experience.  I’m all ears. 🙂


P.S. Thank you to all that add valuable information in the comments.  Several comments have led me to change my mind on certain things that I was not aware of.  If you haven’t already, go back and read some of the comments.  There are golden nuggets of information there too!

14 thoughts on “Our first meeting with a financial advisor.”

  1. You are definitely doing the right thing by talking (for free) to a variety of fee only financial advisors. And even if you find one you think is good – keep interviewing how many you have planned (maybe 10 or so),

    On the investment you show – it has produced – net – good/great returns. BUT it is not a “conservative” investment. There are wide swings in value and timing is everything. You want to make sure that as you get close to needing that money you move it into something with a likely lower return but less volatile. If you don’t need it all at once you can move out f it slowly as you get close to needing the money. You just don’t want all or most of the funds you have to access in that investment as the time comes for you to use the money. You won’t know if the market is doing well that year or you are on a down swing.

    1. Hi SAK,
      You are absolutely correct. My problem with this particular advisor is that he wanted a fund (that had another 12 years to grow) to be so conservative, that it wouldn’t even keep up with inflation. We have two main investment vehicles. One that has a chance to grow and the other that is 60% fixed income. We understand the need to lower our risk as we need the money.

  2. Every single thing a financial advisor told me to do when I inherited money turned out to be wrong. Never again. Only I know what to do with MY money.

  3. Every single thing my financial advisor told me to do with my windfall turned out to be a mistake. Never again. I am the only one who knows what is best for MY money.

    I think the best thing a person can do is read, read, read. I recommend Kiplinger magazine. Mr. Money Mustache said that magazine led to his successful early retirement and the FIRE brigade. I don’t pay for the subscription. I read it for free, online, with my local library.

    Keep searching. Good luck.

  4. When I inherited money from my dad, I sought the expertise of a financial advisor. Every single thing he told me to do, which I did, despite my own best knowledge, turned out to be WRONG. I wanted too invest in government bonds at that time (30 year) which would have netted me $44,000 per year for life, he advised against it. Now? That money is gone and netting me nothing. I also wanted to buy a condo in Florida (in 2005) which he also advised against. Told me to rent instead. Have you seen the rents in Florida for the 3 winter months lately? That would now cost me $12,000 a year! Insanity! He advised me to buy a vacation home locally, within driving distance, which turned out to be a beach house in Newport RI. After owning it for 10 years, I sold at a $100,000 LOSS.
    If I had listened to my own advice, I would be a millionairess by now.
    The only person who knows how to handle your money the best is YOU, YOU, YOU.
    Sorry, but I don’t like financial advisors.
    Start reading Kiplinger magazine. They have some great knowledge. Mr. Money Mustache claims that the reason why he successfully retired you was due to Kiplinger. I read it for free, online with my local library. You don’t have to buy a monthly subscription.
    Good luck.

  5. I have little time for financial advisors. Years ago I went with my mum and her modest savings to three financial advisors – the plans they drew up for her were just ridiculous given her age and lifestyle. I find they have a narrow view of people and every option they suggest somehow benefits them. A coupe of years ago hubby and i were at a financial planning seminar run by our retirement fund – I was the only one in the room that knew what my budget was for all our expenses, knew how much was invested where and could answer questions about our finances immediately – apparently that is very rare so I guess they are often dealing with people who just don’t know much about money. I’d rather make my own decisions than trust a financial advisor.

Leave a Reply