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The Importance of Finding a Financial Advisor Who Speaks Your Language

Couple meeting with First Horizon Financial Advisor.

The truth is that everyone is a little bit weird about money. That's okay. It's your money, and there's nothing wrong with being a bit particular about how you handle it and how you expect others to handle it.

That's why it's critical to find a financial advisor who speaks your language. You're not just looking for a financial professional who understands the financial markets and available investment options; you're looking for someone who understands you. So, how do you go about finding this optimal mixture of financial savvy and easy communication?

It turns out that a bit of luck doesn't hurt.

In the stories below, you'll meet two people who wanted a trusted financial professional who would minimize the jargon, and who would also relate to them as part of an ongoing relationship, not as a transaction. They each found their ideal match in vastly different ways, yet with a similar outcome: establishing an ongoing and frank rapport.

Weathering the Storm

As someone committed to building a nest egg, Claudia Levy* made regular visits to her local bank branch. She happened to meet her financial advisor, Andrea, through a referral from one of the tellers, who casually mentioned that Claudia might benefit from speaking with a financial advisor.

This simple introduction was the beginning of a long-term relationship. From that first visit back in 2004 until today, what Claudia appreciates is Andrea's interest in Claudia's entire financial picture. "I had a 401(k) sitting in a previous employer's plan, and Andrea immediately helped me roll it over to an account where I could control the investments more," says Claudia. Consolidating Claudia's investments allowed them to work together as a team to diversify her savings and get everything Claudia had within arm's reach. Claudia didn't realize how important this accessibility would become.

Claudia's frugality over the years flowed over into shared investments with her mother. When her mother passed away, she found herself at odds with her siblings over assets she shared with their mother. In only a matter of weeks, Claudia found much of her assets frozen, thanks to a lawsuit disputing her mother's estate. Thankfully, Claudia had Andrea to guide her through this emotionally and financially trying time.

"She made everything so simple," says Claudia.

“We sat down, and Andrea built a plan where I would have a consistent level of income, no matter how long the issues with my mother's estate lasted.”
- Claudia Levy

The financial plan they created together allowed Claudia to take some much-needed time off to work on both her mother's estate and her emotional well-being. "Knowing that I could take time off work because I had that income helped me weather the storm."

Today, Claudia still works with Andrea, and they meet a few times a year to review goals. The time is coming where Claudia will want to spend more time on her woodworking up in a mountain cabin and less time in her job for a local nonprofit.

"I know it'll be possible and we can plan for it to happen," says Claudia. "Thanks to Andrea, it's just a matter of when." Claudia jokes that she didn't walk into her bank looking for a friend back in 2004, but it turns out that she's found one in Andrea.

Along with regular check-ins and deep knowledge of Claudia's goals – both short-term and long-term – Andrea keeps Claudia grounded even when Claudia's world is in flux. "Andrea's kept me away from the ledge quite a few times!"

Discovering New Beginnings

"The first thing I noticed about my first financial advisor was how approachable she was," says Sharon Welch. Sharon was newly divorced and happened to catch a seminar with her soon-to-be-advisor, Rebecca, at a day-long women's summit. Both Sharon and the friend who accompanied her to the summit took Rebecca up on her offer for a complimentary one-hour consultation. Not long after, they were both Rebecca's clients.

"I loved that Rebecca didn't use a lot of financial lingo," says Sharon. "She talked about goals and had a hopefulness about her. She made everything about investing seem so accessible." Even if Sharon didn't have much money to invest immediately, Rebecca helped her celebrate her victories in a post-divorce world. "She reminded me that I'd bought a house and I didn't have much debt. It felt good to hear that I was doing pretty well."

Sharon and Rebecca worked together as a team for 20 years until Rebecca passed away in 2013. "It was traumatic," says Sharon. "I didn't know what was next."

“I loved that Rebecca didn't use a lot of financial lingo.”
- Sharon Welch

When Rebecca's advisory firm assigned Alicia as Sharon's new financial advisor, Sharon admits she was more than a bit hesitant. She'd built such a powerful and trusting relationship with Rebecca that it seemed impossible to replicate.

It took some adjusting and, ultimately, a heart-to-heart with Alicia about her reservations. This conversation was the wisest step Sharon could have taken. She learned that Alicia, too, had been close with Rebecca and was also grieving. This conversation allowed their advisor-client relationship to move forward with a new understanding of what they both could gain and what they both had lost.

Sharon now makes financial plans for her future with Alicia. Sharon's side of the family tends to live into their 90s, so her plan accounts for her living until she's 95. "When the markets take a turn, or my savings aren't where they need to be, we joke that it looks like I'll only be able to live until I'm 80!" says Sharon. Being able to have a sense of humor about how money and life's plans don't always align is essential for Sharon, and that humor continues with Alicia.

Now, they're both in on the joke and the serious financial plan behind it.

When you're ready to talk about planning your future, schedule a consultation with one of the financial advisors at First Horizon Advisors. They'll help make things clear – and, together, you can have the first of many conversations about where you want to go and how your money can help get you there.

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* Individuals' names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Risk, including the potential for financial loss, is involved in every investment relationship. The scenarios presented here are not intended as a representation of future guaranteed results or to represent actual clients or financial advisors of First Horizon Advisors.