By Pam Krueger
Yes…. And no.
For centuries, people have done business with local merchants.
In the Old Country, you bought your foods from your nearby grocer, baker, butcher, fishmonger and cheese shop. You purchased your shoes from the cobbler in your village. You procured your clothing from the local seamstress, haberdasher and millinery. You dined and drank in the local pub. And you trusted your local banker with your money. Not anymore.
Now you can consider the value of the relationship versus the proximity.
The Internet Changed Everything
Today, the internet has been the catalyst for a quantum leap in relationships of all kinds, from where you buy just about everything online––your clothes, shoes, office supplies, groceries and meals for delivery––thanks to Amazon, ebay, Zappos and hundreds of other e-commerce sites.
Even your most personal financial relationships are different now than they were even five or ten years ago. For example, you probably have credit cards from providers in different states or bank at an institution headquartered far away.
So while the best possible financial advisor for you (humans not robots) could be around the corner or across town, he or she could also be an independent advisor 100 or more miles away. There’s no rule that says your financial advisor’s office needs to be within a two-mile radius of your house, or that you should get comfortable with an advisor who’s three states away and will only meet you online on Skype.
The First Meeting is Face-to-Face
You’ll almost always meet your financial advisor in person initially at their office to see how they work, how deep their bench is, and who does their research (as well as perhaps who makes their coffee). After that first meeting, you may agree on phone meetings, or one-to-one, real-time meetings where you can pour over documents together online from your respective offices.
But the new way of working with a trusted advisor could be to get the best of both the face-to-face and virtual meetings. Many independent fiduciary advisors do travel, and often have clients across multiple states.
The financial advisor who is the best fit for your individual needs and who fits your temperament, could be based in Sacramento while you’re in San Francisco, or in Manhattan if you’re on Long Island, or in Dallas when you’re in San Antonio.
After Your First Meeting, You Can Meet Halfway
Once you build a relationship with an independent fiduciary advisor you really trust and you’ve both invested the time to establish a solid financial plan, in most cases that advisor will be happy to meet you halfway at your favorite lunch spot––or at your home or your office.
So once you’re seriously thinking of hiring an advisor, part of the decision to hire him or her means making the initial half hour or a half-day drive to meet face-to-face for the very first time. Typically, it’s a very worthwhile trip. It’s also an important part of the dynamic, because with the right advisor, the flexibility for how you’ll work together is built right into the relationship.
Prioritize: The Best Advisor First, Distance Second
This is especially true when a family has very specific parameters that govern its portfolio, such as a special needs child, a disability, or triplets about to enter college simultaneously.
Most people understand the importance of developing a long-term relationship with the right fiduciary advisor who just may not be in your particular city.