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10 Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

couple meeting with financial planner

If you’re considering hiring a financial advisor, you’re ahead of the game — almost half (45%) of adults ages 40 to 59 would rather make an appointment with a dentist than with a financial planner, according to a survey from AARP.

But getting your financial ducks in a row is a good idea. According to one study, perceived financial well-being — feeling that you’re on the right track and secure in the direction you’re headed — is a key predictor of overall well-being. And consulting with a financial professional can help you get there.

10 questions to ask a financial advisor

A financial advisor is a professional who can work with you to manage your investments or advise you on your financial life in general, from retirement savings and college funding to life insurance and estate planning. Choosing the right financial planner for you will depend on your particular needs and your planner’s individual style, so it’s important that you ask questions before you settle on a pro.

Here are some suggestions of what to ask a financial advisor.

1. Are you a fiduciary?

Being a fiduciary means a financial planner always must put the best interests of their client above their own. That means acting prudently and avoiding conflicts of interest, among other things. When someone is a fiduciary, they’ve essentially agreed to offer you their best advice.

“I think that’s important,” said Howard Pressman, a financial planner in Vienna, Virgina. “A fiduciary is sort of at the very top of what’s owed to the client.”

2. What licenses or certifications do you have?

There are a variety of ways a financial planner can be trained, and it’s important that you understand what training yours has received. You might find, for instance:

  • CFA: chartered financial analyst (from the CFA Institute)
  • PFS: personal financial specialist (from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants)
  • CFP: certified financial planner (from the CFP Board)

Many experts recommend finding a CFP, a designation that requires thousands of hours in education, testing and field experience to acquire.

“I think the CFP designation, for financial planning, is kind of the pinnacle of what you’re looking for with someone,” Pressman said. You can verify someone’s designation by checking with the issuing organization.

3. What services do you offer?

Some financial planners offer planning services, which means looking at your whole financial picture — assets, liabilities, insurance expenses and employee benefits, for instance — and helping you make a plan. Others offer investment management only, which means managing your investment portfolio without looking at the rest of your life.

“Certainly investment advice is part of a good financial plan, but we also need to be discussing risk management, things like life insurance, retirement income planning or retirement savings, saving for goals, estate planning, often tax planning,” Pressman said. “Things like that all need to be factored into what a financial plan is.”

4. How will you be paid?

Some advisors charge by the hour, while others charge a percentage of your investment portfolio each year or a fixed fee based on your portfolio’s value. Some planners also charge a flat fee for certain services, such as an annual checkup or portfolio overview. Some (nonfiduciary) planners receive commissions for recommending certain products.

“There are many different models by which financial planners charge their clients, and I don’t necessarily think any one is better than the other,” Pressman said. “But moreover, does the consumer understand how this person is being compensated and all the ways this person is being compensated?”

The average fee for those charging a percentage of assets under management is 1.02% for a $1 million account, according to a 2017 AdvisoryHQ study. The number gets slightly higher for smaller accounts (1.12% for a $100,000 account, for instance) and slightly lower for larger accounts. The average fee for those charging by the hour is typically $120 to $300 per hour, depending on where you live.

5. What is your typical client like?

Some advisors specialize in certain groups, such as people with portfolios worth at least $200,000 or people nearing retirement. You may be better off working with someone who understands the stage of life you’re in, so make sure your planner works with clients like you. If a planner tells you they typically work with clients who have six-figure assets and you’re 25 and just starting out, you may want to search for someone who’s more familiar with the issues you’re facing.

6. Why did your last client leave you?

The relationship between a planner and client should be a personal one, but it doesn’t always work out. It’s useful to hear why someone may have left the advisor’s services — and to know that your advisor is authentic enough to tell you about it.

“I had one client who decided to leave me because he felt that I was too conservative,” said Marguerita Cheng, a financial planner in Gaithersburg, Maryland. “I feel that if you are too aggressive with clients’ money early on and they lose money, it’s very hard to rebuild trust.”

In general, asking advisors this question will help you get a feel for their honesty and forthrightness. If a planner goes on the defensive or seems like they’re not being square with you, you may want to move along.

7. What’s your investing philosophy?

Each financial advisor has their own preferred style of investing, and you should make sure it fits yours. Cheng, for instance, doesn’t accept money for investment management unless she also can do planning for the client. And while she participates in both passive and active investing, she doesn’t do a lot of stock picking. “I don’t think I can do a good job for you managing your money if I don’t understand your goals,” Cheng said. “You’ve got to make sure that’s what you want.”

If your planner likes value investing — searching for equities they think are underpriced — and you’re a fan of a more basic approach to your portfolio, you have to decide if that’s the best place for you. Similarly, if you’re looking for someone who can guide you on socially responsible investing, you’d want someone who is familiar with environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds and knows how to help you invest in them. If you don’t agree with how a planner approaches investing, look elsewhere.

8. How did your clients fare during the downturn?

It’s helpful to hear how someone’s investment approach worked during the most recent recession, as there’s always the chance of another market dip. This question can help you get a read on what that planner learned (if anything) during the market fall and how they’re safeguarding clients against something similar happening in the future.

One study found that the vast majority of financial planners report some level of post-traumatic stress as a result of the recession, so if your planner can’t easily verbalize a strategy for weathering the next downturn, that could be a red flag.

9. Who will I be working with?

Sometimes you’ll have an initial consultation with one advisor at a firm and find yourself handed off to someone else for your regular planning needs. Or you’ll be handled by a different person during each check-in, depending on everyone’s workload.

Gauging an advisor’s response to this question is entirely personal: If you don’t care whom you work with, it doesn’t really matter. But if you like the planner you’re interviewing and you’d like to stick with them, you may not want to hear that you’ll be handed off to someone else at the firm.

10. How do you like to communicate?

Does your advisor prefer to speak to you on the phone, or will they email? Do they mind if you text them? How often will you hear from them? Make sure your communication style will complement the advisor’s.

“I have some clients I don’t really hear from, but they’ll text me,” Cheng said. “I just want people to be comfortable with their money and working with their advisor. That’s why it’s OK for them to send a quick text message. True story: Someone once texted, ‘I’m buying a Tesla. How do I pay for this?’”

In the end, it’s also important to trust your gut. Your planner may give satisfactory answers to all these questions, but you still might not have the best feeling about them — and that’s fine. “We, as humans, have very good gut instincts, but we tend to ignore them at times,” Pressman said. “It doesn’t matter if a friend referred you or if you read great things about this person. There are enough good financial planners out there that if this one isn’t hitting all the boxes, move on.”

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Kate Ashford
Kate Ashford |

Kate Ashford is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Kate here

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J.P. Morgan You Invest Review 2019

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Chances are you’ve heard of J.P. Morgan Chase. It’s one of the major players in the financial space, and it’s long had a brokerage arm in addition to providing global banking services. Now, though, J.P. Morgan is getting into the online brokerage space with You Invest.

You Invest is an online trading platform that allows you to buy and sell individual stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) without the need for a human broker. This review will look at what’s offered and provide you with the information you need to decide if it’s right for you.

You Invest offers a way for you to seamlessly connect your Chase bank account to your brokerage account. Additionally, you end up with access to plenty of educational materials and the ability to understand your total portfolio.

J.P. Morgan You Invest
Visit J.P. MorganSecuredon J.P. Morgan You Invest’s secure site
The bottom line: You Invest offers a fairly standard online brokerage experience with the perks of low-cost trading fees and a wealth of investor education.

  • Pay just $2.95 per trade after receiving 100 free trades.
  • Enjoy a large selection of investments, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs.
  • Manage investments according to goals with the Portfolio Builder tool.

Who should consider You Invest

You Invest is ideal for beginning investors, especially those looking for education and assistance building a portfolio that will help them reach their goals. Intermediate and advanced investors also can benefit, but the educational tools and resources are especially helpful for novice investors.

Additionally, it connects to your other Chase accounts, making it easy for you to move money from your bank account to your brokerage account and vice versa. If you already bank with Chase, using You Invest to manage your portfolio might not be a bad choice.

While $2.95 per trade is a low cost, this product might not be the best choice for active traders. For traders who can keep their trade volume low, this can be an excellent brokerage since you receive 100 free trades in the first year after an account is opened — with the opportunity to qualify for more free trades in subsequent years.

J.P. Morgan You Invest fees and features

Current promotions

Up to 100 free trades

Stock trading fees
  • $2.95 per trade
  • $0 per trade for Chase Private Client, Chase Sapphire Banking, J.P. Morgan Private Bank and J.P. Morgan Securities clients
Amount minimum to open account
  • $0
Tradable securities
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)
  • $0 annual fee
  • $75 full account transfer fee
  • $75 partial account transfer fee
  • $0 inactivity fee
Commission-free ETFs offered
Offers automated portfolio/robo-advisor
Account types
  • Individual taxable
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Joint taxable
  • Rollover IRA
  • Rollover Roth IRA
Ease of use
Mobile appiOS, Android
Customer supportPhone, Chat, 5,100 branch locations
Research resources
  • SEC filings
  • Mutual fund reports
  • Earnings press releases
  • Earnings call recordings

Strengths of You Invest

The educational tools and insights provided by You Invest are where this offering shines. They help you find the right mutual funds and stocks, and get you to understand your investing needs.

  • Low trading fees: To start, you get 100 free trades from You Invest. After you use your allotment, trades cost only $2.95. Among online brokers that charge trading fees, this is one of the lowest. If you’re not an active trader, you might be able to avoid paying fees fairly easily. You can get more free trades each year if you use certain Chase banking products, such as Premier Plus Checking.
  • Educational resources: You Invest offers a number of helpful articles about investing, strategy and more. It’s possible for you to learn the basics and then apply them to your portfolio.
  • Portfolio Builder: If you have at least $2,500 in your account, you can take advantage of this tool designed to help you choose the right investments for your portfolio. You’ll receive guidance on putting together a portfolio based on your answers to questions designed to gauge your risk tolerance, investment goals and time horizon.
  • Powerful screening tools: You can use these tools to set parameters and then find assets that fit your requirements. A list of options appears, and when you’re looking at Mutual funds , You Invest also includes Morningstar ratings and analysis of where they might fit into your portfolio.

Drawbacks of You Invest

A review of You Invest wouldn’t be complete without a look at some of the downsides. In many ways, You Invest is a typical online brokerage option. Other than some of the educational and portfolio building tools, there’s not a lot to distinguish this from other brokers.

  • No standalone app: Rather than offering a standalone app, you access You Invest through J.P. Morgan Mobile. Until you get used to it, it can be somewhat disconcerting to navigate to your trading app within the regular app.
  • Limited account types: There are only two account options with You Invest: taxable and IRA. You can get a Joint taxable account as well as an individual account, and there is a Roth option with the IRA. However, if you’re hoping for a custodial account or 529, you won’t find it with You Invest.
  • No managed portfolios: Right now, you won’t find managed portfolios, but they are supposed to be coming in 2019. So if you’re more of a hands-off investor, you might want to wait until there are more options available.
$2.95 per trade

Per Trade Stock Trading Fee

Account Minimum

Up to 100 free trades

$0.00 per trade

Per Trade Stock Trading Fee

Account Minimum

Get up to $600 when you open and fund an account within 60 calendar days of account opening, depending on deposited amount.

$0.00 per trade

Per Trade Stock Trading Fee

Account Minimum

Cash bonuses are available for new accounts. Bonuses start at $50 if you deposit or transfer $10,000+.

Is You Invest safe?

Any investment comes with the risk of loss. However, You Invest is insured by the SIPC for up to $500,000. Additionally, J.P. Morgan is a member of FINRA. As a result, you’re reasonably protected — especially when you consider that this is a company with more than $1 trillion in assets under management. It’s not likely to fail.

Just make sure you understand your own risk tolerance before you invest. While insurance protects you from failure, you’re not protected from market losses.

Final thoughts

You Invest can be a great option for middle-of-the-road investors who want a little more flexibility in their portfolios but still need some guidance. There are a number of assets to choose from, and the educational tools and resources allow you to build a portfolio based on your long-term goals and expectations.

Depending on your goals, there might be other products that work for you. For those more interested in a hands-off approach, Betterment might be a more suitable choice. You also can make trades for less with a service like Robinhood. However, you might not get the same level of educational tools with Robinhood, and Betterment won’t let you personalize your portfolio to the same degree.

If you want a low-cost, personalized way to invest — learning as you go — and if you’re already a Chase customer, opening a You Invest account might be a good way to move forward.

Open a J.P. Morgan You Invest accountSecured
on J.P. Morgan You Invest’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit |

Miranda Marquit is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Miranda here

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How to Make Money in Stocks

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Putting money in the market is well-worn financial advice for a reason: Investing in stocks is one of the best steps you can take toward building wealth.But how, exactly, is that wealth built? How is money earned by purchasing stock market holdings, and what can you do to maximize the gains you make from your own portfolio?

How to make money in stocks: 5 best practices

The way the stock market works — and works for you — is as simple as a high school economics class. It’s all about supply and demand, and the way those factors affect value.

Investors purchase market assets like stocks (shares of companies), which increase in value when the company does well. As the company in question makes financial progress, more investors want a piece of the action, and they’re willing to pay more for an individual share.

That means that the share you paid for has now increased in price, thanks to higher demand — which in turn means you can earn something when it comes time to sell it. (Of course, it’s also possible for stocks and other market holdings to decrease in value, which is why there’s no such thing as a risk-free investment.)

Along with the profit you can make by selling stocks, you can also earn shareholder dividends, or portions of the company’s earnings. Cash dividends are usually paid on a quarterly basis, but you might also earn dividends in the form of additional shares of stock.

Micro-mechanics of how stocks earn money aside, you likely won’t see serious growth without heeding some basic market principles and best practices. Here’s how to ensure your portfolio will do as much work for you as possible.

1. Take advantage of time

Although it’s possible to make money on the stock market in the short term, the real earning potential comes from the compound interest you earn on long-term holdings. As your assets increase in value, the total amount of money in your account grows, making room for even more capital gains. That’s how stock market earnings increase over time exponentially.

But in order to best take advantage of that exponential growth, you need to start building your portfolio as early as possible. Ideally, you’ll want to start investing as soon as you’re earning an income — perhaps by taking advantage of a company-sponsored 401(k) plan.

To see exactly how much time can affect your nest egg, let’s look at an example. Say you stashed $1,000 in your retirement account at age 20, with plans to hang up your working hat at age 70. Even if you put nothing else into the account, you’d have over $18,000 to look forward to after 50 years of growth, assuming a relatively modest 6% interest rate. But if you waited until you were 60 to make that initial deposit, you’d earn less than $800 through compound interest — which is why it’s so much harder to save for retirement if you don’t start early. Plus, all that extra cash comes at no additional effort on your part. It just requires time — so go ahead and get started!

2. Continue to invest regularly

Time is an important component of your overall portfolio growth. But even decades of compounding returns can only do so much if you don’t continue to save.

Let’s go back to our retirement example above. Only this time, instead of making a $1,000 deposit and forgetting about it, let’s say you contributed $1,000 a year — which comes out to less than $20 per week.

If you started making those annual contributions at age 20, you’d have saved about $325,000 by the time you celebrated your 70th birthday. Even if you waited until 60 to start saving, you’d wind up with about $15,000 — a far cry from the measly $1,800 you’d take out if you only made the initial deposit.

Making regular contributions doesn’t have to take much effort; you can easily automate the process through your 401(k) or brokerage account, depositing a set amount each week or pay period.

$0.00 per trade

Per Trade Stock Trading Fee

Account Minimum

500 free trades with a qualifying net deposit of $100,000

$0.00 per trade

Per Trade Stock Trading Fee

Account Minimum

Get up to $600 when you open and fund an account within 60 calendar days of account opening, depending on deposited amount.

$0.00 per trade

Per Trade Stock Trading Fee

Account Minimum
New accounts with a deposit of at least $5,000, may be eligible for a cash bonus, which can range from $100 to $2,500 depending on the amount deposited.

3. Set it and forget it — mostly

If you’re looking to see healthy returns on your stock market investments, just remember — you’re playing the long game.

For one thing, short-term trading lacks the tax benefits you can glean from holding onto your investments for longer. If you sell a stock before owning it for a full year, you’ll pay a higher tax rate than you would on long-term capital gains — that is, stocks you’ve held for more than a year.

While there are certain situations that do call for taking a look at your holdings, for the most part, even serious market dips reverse themselves in time. In fact, these bearish blips are regular, expected events, according to Malik S. Lee, CFP® and founder of Atlanta-based Felton & Peel Wealth Management.

So-called market corrections are healthy, he said. “It shows that the market is alive and well.” And even taking major recessions into account, the market’s performance has had an overall upward trend over the past hundred years.

4. Maintain a diverse portfolio

All investing carries risk; it’s possible for some of the companies you invest in to underperform or even fold entirely. But if you diversify your portfolio, you’ll be safeguarded against losing all of your assets when investments don’t go as planned.

By ensuring you’re invested in many different types of securities, you’ll be better prepared to weather stock market corrections. It’s unlikely that all industries and companies will suffer equally or succeed at the same level, so you can hedge your bets by buying some of everything.

5. Consider hiring professional help

Although the internet makes it relatively easy to create a well-researched DIY stock portfolio, if you’re still hesitant to put your money in the market, hiring an investment advisor can help. Even though the use of a professional can’t mitigate all risk of losses, you might feel more comfortable knowing you have an expert in your corner.

How the stock market can grow your wealth

Given the right combination of time, contribution regularity and a little bit of luck, the stock market has the potential to turn even a modest savings into an appreciable nest egg.

Ready to get started investing for yourself? Check out the following MagnifyMoney articles:

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Jamie Cattanach
Jamie Cattanach |

Jamie Cattanach is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jamie here