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How to Choose a Financial Advisor?

When considering investments, retirement funds, financial plans, or estate planning or when you need an independent financial review, you want a dependable, knowledgeable and trusted source to protect your interests and articulate your financial goals. Choosing your financial advisor takes some work, but in doing the research, you will gain confidence with the knowledge that your finances will be handled professionally, carefully and efficiently with your special fiscal needs in mind. The questions below have been assembled from a variety of sources on how to select a financial advisor.  We have provided our responses to the questions. Of course, if you have a question about financial investments or financial advisors, we would be happy to hear from you.
Contact us with your questions anytime. 
 
1.    Will the advisor spend time listening to you to understand your needs and goals?
A. Over the course of initial discovery meetings, Sweetwater will develop an understanding of your needs. We want to help you and in order to do that we need to know your investment needs and your goals for financial success. Listening to you and hearing your needs is the first step on the path to your financial security. 
 

2.    How does your financial advisor get paid?
A. Sweetwater is a fee-only advisor. Fee-only advisors have a fiduciary responsibility to put the interests of their clients first. We do not receive commissions or fees based on product sales and can therefore maintain our policy of strict avoidance of any conflict of interest. Fee-only advisors generally provide more comprehensive investment and financial advice. Our fee schedule is shown here. We know that transparency is important to you and we promise that prior to starting any work you will fully understand the scope of the services we will provide and exactly what the fee will be. There are no hidden costs and no monetary surprises — just safe, simple and secure finical advice and services.  (Click here to read about the differences between fee-only financial advisors, fee-based advisors and commissioned advisors.)

3.    Is the advisor a fiduciary?
A. Sweetwater is a fiduciary. (Click here to read about the difference between a fiduciary and the suitability standard.)

4.    Where can you view an advisor’s registration and regulatory information?
A.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) www.sec.gov and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) www.finra.org websites provide information on financial advisors’ registrations and disciplinary histories. 

Sweetwater’s SEC file number is 801-35176 and our FINRA CRD number is 107493. Sweetwater has never had a disciplinary action or complaint against it in over 25 years of operation. 
 

5.    Will the advisor provide a copy of the Form ADV part II?
A. Yes, click here to view Sweetwater’s Form ADV part II, or you can view it on the SEC web site www.sec.gov or contact us and we will email or mail it to you.  (The Form ADV part II is a disclosure document for clients. The Form ADV part II includes details regarding services provided and fees charged, as well as information about the investment advisor’s business operations and the professional background of key personnel. Be wary of any advisor that does not offer the form up front or upon request.)
 
6.    How long has the Advisor been in business?
A. Sweetwater was formed in 1989 and has been in business for over 25 years.
 
7.    What financial services does Sweetwater Investments offer?
A. Sweetwater is a full service investment advisors, some of our services include:
    a.    Financial Planning from a Private Wealth Advisor
    b.    Investment/Financial Consultation
    c.     Estate Planning
    d.    Divorce Analysis
    e.    Life Surprises Management
    f.     Investment Management
    g.    Investment Due Diligence

Click here to see additional details of financial planning and fiduciary services offered by Sweetwater.
 
8.    Who holds the assets of the advisor’s clients?
A.
Sweetwater uses five independent firms to hold client assets:  Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Deutsche Bank, E-Trade and Bank of New York. (Investors should be cautious of an advisor holding assets in the advisors name — this is the Madoff red flag).

 9.    Will the advisor meet with you in person?
A. Yes, contact us to arrange a discovery meeting with a Sweetwater advisor; we will respond within 24 hours.