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Does my financial advisor need to be local to my area to be successful with me?

Jan 04, 2012 by BrightScope from San Diego, CA in  |  Flag
18 Answers  |  24 Followers
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15 votes
Ted S. Rich Level 12

This is very dependent on the advisor's business model and on the needs of the client, but most of the time the answer to this question is No. The technology age we live in now allows advisors of all types to work very effectively with most clients regardless of geographic location. If you look at the client list of highly regarded advisors, you will almost always see a client base scattered throughout the United States and likely a few foreign based clients as well. What is important in these geographically diverse situations is that the advisor and client agree up front on exactly how they are going to communicate over time. If structured properly, coordinated use of phone, email, virtual meetings, video conferencing and web-based reporting can provide the client with a very enjoyable and effective relationship. In most situations, it is much more important that a client find an advisor that is a good fit for their particular needs regardless of geography than an advisor who is not a good match but happens to be local.

3 Comments   |  Flag   |  Jan 04, 2012 from Orlando, FL
Ryan

Ted, if you are working with a client who is geographically far away from you, do you still try to meet face-to-face every now and then?

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Flag |  Jan 04, 2012 near San Diego, CA
Ted S. Rich

Yes we do, especially near the beginning of the relationship. The only thing missing from a long-distance client interaction is the handshake and the eye contact, but those are still important when someone who does not know you well is turning over the management of their life savings to you.

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Flag |  Jan 04, 2012 near Orlando, FL
grace

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Flag |  Jun 02, 2014 near Manhattan, NY

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4 votes

I agree with Ted - well said, Ted!

1 Comment   |  Flag   |  Jan 04, 2012 from Peoria, IL
grace

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Flag |  Jun 02, 2014 near Manhattan, NY

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2 votes
Jonathan Foster Level 16

An advisor doesn't need to be local, but it certainly can be helpful to both the advisor and client. Face-to-face meetings with clients have always been an important part of many successful relationships. However, FREQUENT face-to-face meetings are not always necessary. Phone calls and emails can be very effective.

It really depends on what makes the client most comfortable and the advisor most effective. However, where a client lives can also drive this decision. For example, if a client lives in a very small town, there may well be a limited pool of advisors to choose from. In this case, I would certainly recommend the client remain open-minded to looking at advisors who are not local.

A word of advice to clients...ask a lot of your friends who the use, who they like, and WHY. Also, check the SEC and FINRA websites to search the disciplinary history for any advisor you are considering. If you read something negative, ask the advisor to explain what happened.

Jon Foster

Comment   |  Flag   |  Dec 26, 2012 from Santa Monica, CA

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Alex Bentley Level 18

Before I became an advisor myself I had my own advisor. He was not local and I never met him face to face. It worked out great so my answer would be no.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Aug 14, 2013 from Pacific Palisades, CA

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2 votes

Your financial advisor doesn't need to be local. That being said, I think it's important to have at least one face to face meeting with your advisor throughout the year. With the available technology today, (email, video conferencing, etc) you can get nearly all the same benefits from an advisor located far away as you would from a local firm. I would add that by increasing the boundaries of available advisors outside of just your local area, you can improve the potential for connecting with an advisor that best understands you.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Feb 26, 2014 from Catawba, NC

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2 votes

I prefer to see clients face to face as well but that does not mean they have to live in the same town or state. The important thing is finding an advisor who you are comfortable with and have confidence in that they are looking out for your best interest. If you find that with someone then agreeing on a fee that may include travel expenses for an annual review makes sense. For other meetings you can use all the available technology.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Oct 31, 2014 from Greenville, SC

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2 votes

I have a few clients that live outside of San Diego (LA, SF, NYC, and Denver). However, I met with them all before we established a formal relationship. So, no, you do not need to work with a local advisor. However, it is in the best interest for you and for the advisor to meet face-to-face, at least in the beginning. Trust is one of the biggest factors when working with an advisor. And this is hard to build if you are not able to meet in person.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jan 06, 2015 from San Diego, CA

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2 votes

The question is a good one and influences both clients and advisors. Because the majority of advisors have limited budgets, they have a tendency to focus their outreach on the city or region where they are located. From the perspective of people seeking financial advice, most assume that they will have greater confidence in advisors they have been able to meet in person.

After decades in the business I can attest that many of my client relationships began with a personal meeting. On the other hand, I have some clients who I have never met. However, today many of my clients live far enough away that personal meetings are not practical. Some have changed jobs and moved to another state, others moved to be nearer to their children. They have all remained clients and almost all have become friends. Regular telephone, e-mail and other forms of electronic communication have made the old-fashioned personal meeting much less necessary or even desirable. Why drive or fly when you can have the same meeting from the comfort of your home or office?

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jan 06, 2015 from Suffolk, VA

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Ben VerWys Level 5

I'll actually probably come at this from a different angle than many of the responses I have seen thus far. In today's world, technology has given the Advisory community (or for those willing to embrace it anyway) the ability to work anywhere. We began a few years ago utilizing webinars, virtual meeting software, and videochat to offer clients a full service experience and now serve clients in many of the major markets across the United States. We regularly survey our local clients to compare their preferences against the experience that we provide elsewhere to make sure they align.

If you are more concerned about finding someone who is the right fit, you can afford to be location agnostic if you find the right Advisor with the right tools.

  • Ben VerWys is a Co-Founder and Senior Financial Advisor of Action Point, a boutique planning and investment management firm serving clients throughout the United States.
Comment   |  Flag   |  Jan 27, 2015 from Grand Rapids, MI

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1 vote

I can agree with parts of what everyone has said already in regards to this question. My personal experience has been that at least one face-to-face meeting per year goes a long way to solidify the relationship between client and advisor. Technology allows for contact throughout the rest of the year to be made in other ways. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable with whatever situation you find yourself in -- That goes for both the advisor and the client!

Comment   |  Flag   |  Feb 25, 2014 from Appleton, WI

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