“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” –Pablo Picasso

They say that marriage is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life, and they are right—it is. Maybe the number-one decision. But money decisions are very important too, and who you get your financial advice from is just as paramount. This is why I recommend looking for a Functional Retirement Advisor (FRA).

Here is the usual pecking order of things that are most meaningful to people: God (if you believe), health, marriage/family, and then money is right up there with them. Because of this scenario, I believe it is imperative for the vast majority of people to have a kind, empathetic, caring, competent, encouraging, preferably independent financial advocate.

What Makes an FRA Different?

I mention preferably independent because I would like this financial advocate to be an independent advisor separate from the large broker dealers and banks. The reason I say this is, briefly speaking, all of the wirehouses (which are large, integrated brokerage firms with a national presence) are always looking to increase their profit margins.

Sometimes these behemoths do things like pressure the advisor about meeting certain sales quotas. In that environment, it sometimes forces the advisor to take on more clients than they can handle or to look for products that increase revenue for the firm. This all makes it harder to establish a truly personal experience with their clients. However, I will say that it all depends on the individual advisor. Some advisors that are employed by a wirehouse will meet the must-have criteria for a FRA.

I like to put the power of being able to make confident financial decisions into the clients’ hands by helping them to become educated consumers. You don’t need to have the burden of understanding the entire financial landscape of investments and strategies if you are in the capable hands of a FRA that you have complete confidence in. They already have this knowledge and expertise—that’s what you are paying them for. The key is that they need to apply it correctly to your particular wants, needs, goals and intentions within your particular circumstances.

You may even have dealings with an advisor who fits a lot of the criteria of a FRA; and you may feel you already have the most important piece—trust. Just as in any relationship, without trust there is no relationship. This is also true with an advisor–client relationship. I understand that it’s hard to build this necessary ingredient of trust, but if you already have faith in an advisor you are comfortable with, then you’re ahead of the game.

Now that you know what a FRA is and why you need one, what is your next step? Through this series of articles, I will cover things like the landscape of the 21st-century retirement, the qualities of a FRA, and questions you should ask your FRA. By the end of this series, you will have all of the information you need to have the success in retirement you deserve.

Joseph F. Falbo, CFP®, AIF®, CRC® is an independent LPL financial advisor that helps grow and preserve clients’ wealth using cutting edge, customized, and comprehensive strategies. With over two decades of experience, Joe helps clients to pursue and retain the lifestyle they want in retirement. To discuss your retirement goals or any financial topic you want, schedule a 20-minute complimentary call. To learn more about Joe, please visit falbowealth.com.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.