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Expert Insights for Smart Financial Planning

3 Things You Didn't Realize a Financial Adviser Could Do for You

The right professional can help guide your career and personal relationships, as well as your portfolio.


Money governs so much of our lives. It's a deciding factor in the biggest decisions we make – from the careers we pursue to where we choose to live and put down roots.

See Also: 10 Ways to Turn Yourself Into a Millionaire

Yet when it comes to major life decisions, people often fail to realize the ways in which a financial adviser can help them more effectively navigate life's challenges and opportunities. A financial adviser has a comprehensive view of your financial picture and priorities, but a good adviser should also have a view of your personal goals and priorities. A recent study conducted by McAdam found that only about a third of Americans think financial advisers help people make career decisions, and only 19% think financial advisers can help clients with personal relationship issues. In fact, advisers can play a critical role in each of these areas.

The results point to a larger misconception about the crucial role financial advisers play in clients' lives. In fact, 36% of survey respondents said they don't have a "strong understanding" of what exactly a financial adviser does. In particular, most people fail to take advantage of these three key areas of expertise:

1. Guide Your Career Trajectory

Few things impact your financial situation—and your overall happiness—more than your career. That's why it is surprising that in the survey from McAdam, two-thirds of respondents didn't think advisers help people make career decisions. Discussing your financial goals with an adviser can clarify the trajectory your career should take. Talk to your adviser about your career priorities. Do you expect to change employers or even professions at some point in the future? Do you want to go back to school? Do you plan to start your own business?


Then there is planning for retirement. Your retirement goals may ultimately impact the career decisions you make. Financial advisers are often focused on retirement plans for clients, but make sure your advisers understand how you want to retire. Some people plan to work as long as they're able, while others want to retire by the time they're 50. Your financial adviser should understand your motivation behind these decisions so that they can adjust investments and advice accordingly.

2. Create a Financial Roadmap to Remove Relationship Roadblocks

A financial adviser is not a psychologist or a marriage counselor, but an American Psychological Association study found that 31% of adults say that money is a major source of conflict in their relationships. Other studies from researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Notre Dame indicate that compared to arguments about other topics, those about money tend to be more intense, more problematic and more likely to remain unresolved. A financial adviser is perfectly suited to help keep financial concerns from negatively impacting a relationship.

A comprehensive financial plan can help build a roadmap for families and couples that puts them on firmer financial footing and ensures that disagreements are kept to a minimum. Couples can work together to talk about financial issues and concerns with a trusted intermediary that provides impartial guidance when disagreements arise. An adviser can help couples align their goals and find financial strategies that will help them collectively reach them. Additionally, advisers help couples address the challenges that come from very personal decisions such as combining bank accounts and paying off college debts to co-signing a lease and sharing large purchases.

3. Plan for Life's Curve Balls

Helping couples combine their finances before and after marriage is just the beginning of the guidance financial advisers can offer. Yet more than one third of respondents in the McAdam survey said they do not think financial advisers help clients navigate major life changes, such as getting married or having a baby. There are also many unexpected life changes that advisers can help insure against. Think about a death in the family, being laid off from work or coming down with a medical condition. Advisers can help put specific strategies in place that ensure that when expected and unexpected life changes occur, individuals protect their financial situations.


Retirement in itself is a big life change that is highly unpredictable. There is always a fear that retirees will outlive their money or spend too much of it too quickly. Whether you live to 85 or 105, a financial adviser can recommend strategies that will ensure cash flow and protect against a loss of funds. They can help you celebrate longevity of life without worrying about money.

Finding a Relationship That Works

Every relationship between financial planner and client is unique. It's most important to find an adviser you trust and are comfortable working with. But don't miss the opportunity to use your adviser to make more informed decisions in these other areas of your life. Financial advisers work with a lot of clients—they may have seen people in situations similar to yours in the past and can help you avoid mistakes others have made.

And keep in mind the insight an adviser can provide isn't limited to his or her own experience. Good financial advisers have a diverse professional network of accountants, lawyers, realtors and others they can call on for additional expertise and advice on issues that will have a significant impact on your financial stability and your overall happiness.

See Also: What to Ask a Financial Adviser

Phil Simonides, CFP®, is Group Vice President at McAdam, where he oversees the firm's Washington, D.C., metro, New York City metro and Boston offices.

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This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing expert, not the Kiplinger editorial staff.