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Selecting a financial advisor: What you should know

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Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Are you considering partnering with a financial advisor? A financial advisor can help you develop more clarity and confidence with your finances at every life stage—whether you're expecting a child, planning to buy a new home, thinking about retirement or developing your legacy plan.

Choosing a financial advisor can take time and careful consideration. But when you find someone you trust who is committed to thoroughly understanding the purpose you have for your money and helping you align your actions to your values—that's a true partnership.

We sat down with Clint Jasperson, a Thrivent wealth advisor serving in Colorado and Wyoming, to discuss:

  • The benefits of hiring a Thrivent financial advisor.
  • Questions to ask a financial advisor to learn more about them.
  • The signs of a productive advisory partnership.
  • How to make the most of your time with your financial advisor in every meeting.

Q: What is your philosophy on the client/financial advisor relationship?

A: At Thrivent, we believe that everything we have is a gift, and all our clients are in a position of stewardship. So, it's my job as a Thrivent financial advisor to create insight for the client around what they want to do with what they've been given. And when we come to an understanding of what that is, we can better understand how we can make the most of the partnership.

Q: What should a new client expect in the first conversation? How can they prepare for this meeting?

A: During the initial conversation, we're discovering how we can partner together. This first experience really flourishes when you bring in some of your own questions.

You can ask things like: What type of credentials do you have? What does your typical client look like? What types of work do you specialize in? How long have you been in the industry? Why did you choose to work with Thrivent (or another company)? You'd be surprised how rare it is for people to ask these questions. But I think these are good topics to discuss in a forthright way together.

It would also be helpful to research the company ahead of time. When people learn about all of Thrivent's unique benefits, whether it's our charitable impact, that there are unique benefits of membership if you identify as Christian, that we're a not-for-profit organization—it almost sounds too good to be true. But Thrivent is also a Fortune 500 organization that has been around for more than 100 years. And that's all available on the website.

If you research ahead of time, you'll be more familiar with the company and come prepared with better questions when we connect.

Q: Is there a set process for moving forward with the partnership?

A: A partnership with a financial advisor is a dynamic process. I think it's helpful to think about it in stages. Once we've identified our relationship together in the initial Connect meeting, the next stage is exploration, where we explore different opportunities in your life and get clear on what opportunities may exist for you to strengthen your situation.

Then, we can begin to plan and act—that's the implementation stage. We can move back and forth between exploration and implementation as new events happen or your plans change—like if you have a baby.

Q: How can a client ensure they're involved in a productive partnership that is helping them achieve their goals?

A: Overall, a client needs to like the person that they are spending time with, trust that they're competent and agree that they share a responsibility to help bring their goals and wishes to fruition. And finally, the client themselves needs the commitment to see all those things through.

Part of why you partner with an advisor is the application of wisdom, too, which is a combination of three things: principle-based decision making, consistency and relevant timing. The clients that commit to these three things consistently make the most financial success.

It's also important to remember things are always changing—like the legislation passed in 2020 (e.g., the CARES Act) that waived required minimum distributions. The more engaged you are, the more successful the relationship will be.

Q: Could you describe a sign that a client partnership isn't a good fit?

A: As the client, you might be partnering with a financial advisor with 25 different designations and is super smart, but if you feel talked down to or you're just never able to understand what they say, your ability to trust and implement their advice might be jeopardized at some point when your confidence is low. And that's not a win for anybody. Having someone that you like and have confidence in is such an important part of the relationship.

Q: What is the client's role and primary responsibility in the partnership moving forward?

A: I've observed that part of the reason why clients choose to work with a financial advisor is to share or delegate that responsibility of financial stewardship. And while we try to help, at the end of the day, I work for you. So, while it's important to partner with someone, you want to be sure that you always understand your finances in a way that you feel confident and comfortable. And the second that I am not on point [with your needs], we need to have enough confidence in one another so you can be direct with me to say, "Look, I'm not understanding" or, "That's not right." That's the beauty of this partnership.

It's also important to avoid turning the relationship on autopilot because the best relationship that we want with our clients is with someone who is actively engaged in their life and their finances.

Learn more

Want to learn more about working with a Thrivent financial advisor? Connect with someone near you.