There are more than 60 colleges and universities in my home state of South Carolina, ranging from large state schools to small private colleges. Each institution offers its own unique culture, curriculum, and opportunities.

But how could you possibly pick one? You do research, you ask questions, and you discover the right for you. When I chose to attend Clemson University after high school, I knew it was the best decision for me. Other options existed, yet Clemson offered me the greatest opportunities for learning and success.

Selecting a college is important because it potentially positions you for long-term success in life and work. The lessons learned, relationships built, and the degree earned can help you live the life you want to live.

The same is true with a financial advisor. This decision can be pivotal in your financial success long-term. The right partner helps you achieve your goals, while the wrong partner brings stress and frustration.

So how do you choose the right advisor for your needs? Here are 3 questions.

  1. Is there a fit?

Are you comfortable talking to them?  This can be one of the most valuable long term relationships you have, because you’re talking about your intimate financial details. If you aren’t comfortable talking with them, then you may hold back information. And that can lead to poor advice.

Notice how they talk to you. Because you’re younger, people may not take you seriously (frustrating, right?). Watch how the financial advisor talks to you. Do they feel more like a teacher, someone guiding you in the process to achieve your goals? Or does it feel like a lecture from your parents? Go with the teacher, not the lecture.

  1. Do they offer a basic level of ongoing service that you can afford?

Many financial advisors charge based on how much you invest with them. This model doesn’t necessarily help you because you don’t have a ton of money to invest. Yet. Instead, you need someone with a “pay as you go” model for their coaching and guidance in your financial goals. Be prepared to pay for a great advisor. It could potentially have huge returns in the long run.

  1. Do you know other folks who have used the advisor or his team? 

Many people find a financial advisor through the recommendation of a friend or family member. And in today’s world, it’s not uncommon to go to your social media accounts for advice. The best way to find out about an advisor is talking with present or past clients. Ask lots of questions. Find out what it’s like to work with the advisor. You aren’t just hiring for results; you’re hiring someone to be a guide and partner in your financial journey.

Now what?

The road to success begins with the first step. No matter where you are in your financial journey, the best first step you can make is finding a financial advisor. No other decision will impact your future as much as this one.

Do your research answering the above questions. Schedule in-person meetings if possible. Take your time in making this decision, as it is incredibly personal and supremely important.

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