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Inside the Market ‘We are a little nervous about giving our savings to someone we don’t know – can you please advise?’

They’re the kind of clients that advisers drool over – investible assets just into the seven-figure range and a desire to have someone handle their money for them.

There’s just one hitch: This couple, both in their 70s, are leery of advisers. “We are feeling like we would like to have someone manage [our money] for us, but have had negative experiences with financial advisers,” one of the spouses told me recently. “We are wondering what options you would suggest and the positive and negative ramifications of each.”

I suggest an adviser. With a seven-figure portfolio, 70-somethings are best served with consolidated financial planning and investment advice. Other options would be to manage their own money with an online broker or use a robo-adviser. But neither of those avenues would provide comprehensive financial planning. Buying that planning on an à la carte basis is possible using a fee-for-service financial planner (charges hourly or flat rates and doesn’t sell investments). But there’s a certain convenience, comfort and continuity in having planning and investments handled by the same person.

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The challenge is to find the right adviser. The reader who wrote me said she was nervous about dealing with an adviser she didn’t know. The answer is to get to know an adviser before bringing her or him your account.

To start, let’s get the power dynamics clear: With a seven-figure account, you’re the star. Not the adviser. You have every right to visit an adviser a couple of times to get a feel for how they do business and interact with clients. Look for an adviser who is curious about you, the client, and asks lots of questions. It should be apparent that the adviser is about advice first and foremost, with investments a secondary consideration.

If you like an adviser, ask for references from clients similar to you in age and portfolio size. Ask the references what they like and don’t like about the adviser, and whether they would recommend this person. To build a list of adviser to look into, ask friends, family and contacts for names, and ask at your bank. Looking at adviser websites can be a good way to do some preliminary research.

Had a bad experience with an adviser? Sometimes the answer is to find someone better, rather than taking on your investments yourself. Good adviser are out there.

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