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Financial Forum: Ask the right questions to find the right advice

Glen Cone

Look for your choices, pick the best one, then go with it.
— Pat Riley

When faced with the question of where to go to for important advice, whether it’s legal, financial, medical, or maybe even a major retail purchase, always ask yourself some questions first.

It’s important to start off with the right frame of mind and to focus your decision correctly by defining the problem as clearly as you can and coming up with some potential solutions. One simple question to ask is: What will happen if I don’t do anything at all?

Briefly, here are a few general guidelines that can help when seeking professional help, and while choosing who to work with.

• Why is it important to work with someone on the situation or to make this decision? This may be obvious, but not always.

• When is the right time to seek advice? Usually sooner is better, but having information gathered and organized to the best of your ability can save a lot of time money and energy.

• Understand where to find who or what you’re looking for. This is easier when the problem is well-defined. Many professions overlap each other and in some cases can seem to be more, or different, than they really are. The more specialized the problem is, the more specialized the advice should be. For example, are you retiring and want to plan financially for the golden years? Then don’t work with someone specializing in real estate.

• Interview the potential advisor, legal professional or consultant to your satisfaction, get references and check them. Very often a prudent tactic is to get a second (maybe third) opinion.

• Understand clearly all relevant responsibilities and commitments … what’s going to be done, who will do it, when it’ll be done, and how much it will cost you. Get it in writing and keep a copy. But don’t overlook what is expected of you. Ask, and as necessary, have your obligations explained. For instance, if a future appointment is required, know when it is and the clear purpose for it, with an intended outcome.

Work with the right provider. It’s as simple as that. Big decisions in life are not to be taken lightly; rarely meant to be undone, so do your homework first. I’m not talking about what restaurant to try for dinner or where to go on the next vacation.

Spend enough time to do it right and be comfortable with your choice. The likelihood of success will be much greater and you’ll be glad you did.  There are joint responsibilities that both the client and professional advisor share for a successful outcome.

Glen Cone is an independent financial advisor with Commonwealth Financial Group, 1633 Empire Blvd, Webster, N.Y., and co-hosts “The Money Doctors” on WHAM 1180. He can be reached at (585) 248-5150 or gcone@ae.cadaretgrant.com.
The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. You should consult your legal or tax advisor for information concerning your own specific tax situation.
Securities offered through Cadaret, Grant & Co. Inc. Member of FINRA/SIPC.

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