How Do I Choose the Right Advisor?

Important questions to ask before you hire an investment advisor.

To choose an advisor you feel comfortable with – both personally and professionally – it’s smart to take your time, talk face-to-face, and ask the right questions. Are you looking for your first investment advisor? Or do you feel that your current advisor no longer meets your needs?

The questions below will help you interview and evaluate financial advisors to find the one that’s right for you. You will want to select a highly competent, qualified professional with whom you feel comfortable, one whose style suits your personal and financial needs.

What experience do you have?

ZRC Wealth Management has been providing investment management and financial planning services to discerning individuals, families, and companies since 1999. Its principals have years of experience helping investors successful navigate a myriad of market cycles. ZRC Wealth Management is an independent and privately owned firm focused on providing creative and impartial solutions to our clients.

In addition to decades of professional experience, the team at ZRC Wealth Management holds specialized industry certifications that make them distinctly qualified to advise affluent investors. ZRC’s Managing Partner, Barry Mendelson, CFP®, has more than 25 years’ experience. Similarly, other team members including Kevin Goulding, CFP and Ryan Kosakura, CFA, CFP have decades of relevant professional experience as well as Master’s degrees in Business Administration (MBAs).

What are your qualifications?

Among the team’s qualifications are:

  • Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner (CFP)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Certified Public Account (CPA) inactive.
  • Bachelor’s degree in Economics
  • Master’s degree in Business Administration

Why is it important to work with a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner?

As part of their certification, CFP® professionals meet rigorous education and experience requirements, and commit to high ethical and professional standards.

The educational curriculum includes 72 Principal Knowledge Topics under the categories below, as well as a comprehensive financial planning capstone course.

Principal Knowledge Topics

  • Investment planning
  • Tax planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Estate planning
  • Insurance planning
  • Financial management
  • Education planning

CFP® professionals must complete thousands of hours of professional experience related to the financial planning process prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification marks. As a result, CFP® practitioners possess practical experience, in addition to financial planning knowledge. Further, CFP® professionals are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education each reporting period (including a two-hour Ethics course).

Are you a Fiduciary and what are your legal obligations to me when acting as my financial advisor?

Everyone at ZRC is a Fiduciary and therefore everything we do is the client’s best interest. Not all financial advisors are Fiduciaries, and you should only work with those that are.

What services do you offer?

At ZRC, we manage investment accounts for a fee and provide expert financial advice including comprehensive financial planning. For most of our clients, wealth management means helping them make the most out of their money and their time so they can do the things they want, when they want. We start by getting to know our clients well, developing a financial roadmap, and then helping them navigate life’s financial complexities along their journey while keeping them on track. The best financial advisors have the following qualities: financial guru, investment guru, therapist, coach, and friend.

What is your approach to financial planning?

At ZRC, we believe one of the most important components of a successful advisory relationship is understanding who you are as a person; that’s why we focus on what is most important to you, both financially and personally. We look at all the major aspects of your financial life, including your values, goals, income, and ability and willingness to take risks. Since life is unpredictable, we closely monitor your plan and make sure that it continually reflects your situation. In addition, as the financial markets fluctuate, we help manage the level of risk in your portfolio through periodic rebalancing.

Who will I be working with?

We take a team approach at ZRC Wealth Management. Every client is assigned a “wealth team” consisting of your lead or primary wealth advisor, a secondary wealth advisor, and a service advisor. This structure ensures that there are several people at the firm well-versed in your financial affairs so that you receive world-class service.

Are you a fee-only investment advisor?

Yes. The only compensation we receive is the quarterly fee our clients pay us, reducing conflicts of interest and allowing us to act as a Fiduciary. Unlike some advisors, we do not generate commissions from any product or service we recommend to our clients. Therefore, we have no incentive to sell you any products that would put our interests ahead of yours, reducing conflicts of interests.

Are you registered with the SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) as an Investment Advisor?

Yes, ZRC Wealth Management, LLC is registered as an investment advisor with the SEC. For our Firm Brochure / Form ADV click here. Registration with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission or any state securities authority does not imply a certain level of skill or training.

What fees will I pay?

ZRC is “fee only” meaning our only compensation is the quarterly fee our clients pay us. That fee is typically 1.00% a year on the first $1 million of client investments and includes financial planning. For amounts greater than $1 million, the percentage declines. With such an arrangement, ZRC is incented to grow your investments assets and the better you do, the better we do. View our fee schedule here. In addition to ZRC’s fee, there will be investment fees associated with mutual funds and exchange traded funds. Due to institutional relationships the firm has, those fees average less than 0.30% per annum.

Do you have any legal or disciplinary history?

No. ZRC has not been publicly disciplined, nor have any of our advisors. Just as you’d check with the Better Business Bureau or the Contractor’s Licensing Board before you hire someone to remodel your kitchen, you can look at Broker Check or to see if there have been any complaints filed against the advisor you’re interviewing.

How do you benchmark performance and measure results?

We benchmark our performance to a similar mix of indexes or index funds. Client progress toward financial goals is measured in their financial plan and reviewed every time we meet.

How often can I expect to hear from you?

At ZRC, we believe that the key to any relationship is good communication. In order to keep the lines of communication open, our clients:

  • Can log into their ZRC client portal to check the status of their accounts at any time.
  • Receive monthly statements from the custodian or brokerage company.
  • Receive emails from us every six weeks.
  • Receive easy-to-read performance reports every quarter.
  • Meet with their advisor in-person or virtually as often as every quarter or when important matters arise.
  • Review their comprehensive financial plan with their advisor at least one a year.

Can I access information on my phone? Do you have an app?

Yes, ZRC has a robust app for the iPhone and Android platforms that you can download onto your device. In it, you can view all your investment information in one secure place. Additionally, Charles Schwab & Co. has an excellent app for accessing your accounts as well including transferring money between them, depositing checks, and other convenient features.

Do you have a minimum?

No. For investors nearing retirement, we would expect that they have at least $1,000,000 in investable assets. For younger investors, we can work with those that are quickly accumulating assets, even if they have less than $500,000.

Where will my assets be held?

At the present time, we recommend Charles Schwab & Co. Of all the brokerage companies, Charles Schwab offers the best service, safety, security, and value for our clients.

Selecting a professional advisor is an important decision. Click here to find out more about who we are and how we help our clients achieve their goals. Contact us to schedule an introductory call with Kevin Goulding, Ryan Kosakura, or Barry Mendelson.

As always, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve you and your loved ones. If you know of others who could benefit from a conversation with us, please do not hesitate to make the connection. We would be more than happy to provide a complimentary consultation.

To schedule a 30-minute meeting with Barry Mendelson, CFP® – Wealth Advisor & Financial Planner

To schedule a 30-minute meeting with Kevin Goulding, CFP® – Wealth Advisor & Financial Planner  

Sources: Dimensional Fund Advisors, Buckingham Strategic Partners, Blackrock, Inc. All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market. There is no guarantee that any particular asset allocation or mix of funds will meet your investment objectives or provide you with a given level of income. The performance of an index is not an exact representation of any particular investment, as you cannot invest directly in an index.