Pattie Lovett-Reid: How often do you really have to speak with your financial advisor?
How often do you want to hear from your financial advisor?
The answer to that question depends on the type of person you are. Imagine this: You have decided to embark on a long term investment strategy, your portfolio is balanced and aligned to your time horizon, and you have a tolerance for risk. You promised yourself you aren't going to listen to the noise in the market, but that doesn't mean you don't want to monitor your progress. It’s time for the moment of truth – so, you call your advisor, only to find out that not only have you not made any money, but you have actually lost money.
What do you do? Should you continue with your balanced strategy over the long term, throw in the towel or add more money and see the pullback as a buying opportunity?
These are all completely normal and reasonable reactions when you see a paper-loss in your portfolio and it isn't easy to keep your emotions in check.
Common sense will tell us markets are going to fluctuate due to a variety of factors. These include – but certainly are not limited to – geopolitical risks, company risks, interest rate movements, economic data and so on. The first question then becomes, how often should you check in with your advisor? The second question is, how often will your advisor respond to you?
Many people tell me they would like to hear from their advisor on a quarterly basis. It is more of a check up to see if they are still on track. The goal is to be able to look at the overall trend and not become stressed by the fluctuations. At a bare minimum, your advisor should see you and ensure the “know your client" data points remain intact on an annual basis.
Life has a way of throwing you a curve ball when you least expect it. Your advisor needs to know when your life circumstances change and make adjustments to your portfolio composition as necessary.
There are some investors out there who really believe they need to be in the market in an effort to pick up yield, and yet are both unwilling and unable to stomach a paper loss. That can lead to buying high and selling low.
At the end of the day, when it comes to dealing with your advisor, always remember it is your money. Advisors know money is mobile, sensitive and scarce, and it can easily move from one advisor to another. However, having a frank conversation around the review and rebalancing process can save both clients and advisors time and money.