The Pulse

Debunking Advisor Myths

Are business owners even aware of the services you provide?

by Nate Schelhaas

Nate Schelhaas is a senior vice president, actuary, and head of the Business Owner Segment in Benefits and Protection with Principal Financial Group®. Visit www.principal.com.

Small and midsized businesses (SMBs) might think working with a financial professional would feel a bit like going to a stereotypical used car salesmen – that is, your unique needs and business goals are not the primary focus of the individual assisting you.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is the guidance financial professionals offer can be vital for business owners to help grow and strengthen the financial health of their businesses. Putting together an effective financial strategy is complicated. In fact, according to the latest business owner insights from Principal Financial Group®, 31% of SMBs are not sure where to start when it comes to the financial health of their business.[1] That’s where a financial professional can step in and help prepare for short and long-term business goals.

Unfortunately, there are some prevalent myths that might be standing in the way of SMBs working with financial professionals. I want to debunk those myths to highlight the value financial professionals can provide to support the future growth potential of the small business community.

Myth #1: Financial Professionals Are Too Expensive

Fact: Working with a financial professional can be more affordable than you think, and their guidance can help save money in the long-term.

When considering the costs associated with financial professionals, remember any fees may be less than what they can potentially save your business. While compensation structure varies – either through fees-only (annually, hourly, or flat fee); commission-based through selling products; or a combination of the two – a financial professional’s goal is to help you sort out your financial priorities and provide guidance on them. Be sure to ask what you are paying for. It’s in your power to ask for regular updates and access to digital tools or resources that may be available.

Myth #2: Financial Professionals Take A One-Size Fits All Approach

Fact: These individuals offer personalized guidance and can help navigate multiple options for financial planning. Our research tells us that SMBs are too busy with day-to-day responsibilities to plan for their financial futures.[2] Effective financial professionals can provide strategies to help meet a business’s unique needs and take the time to look at your whole financial picture to develop a comprehensive approach to help meet your business’s future goals.

Financial professionals are also there to offer consultative services, not to sell a specific product, and they may offer complimentary tools and resources to help businesses make more informed, strategic decisions. In addition to the initial consulting, they often provide ongoing support and services. Financial professionals are often able to refer the business owner to others in their network, an attorney, a CPA, or a banker, extending their value far beyond the initial consultation or immediate financial support offered.

Myth #3: Financial Professionals Only Work With Large Companies

Fact: The main priority of all financial professionals is to help their clients advance their financial goals, no matter the size of their business. That said, there are some financial professionals that specialize in services geared toward small businesses.

The main priority of all financial professionals is to help their clients advance their financial goals, no matter the size of their business. That said, there are some financial professionals that specialize in services geared toward small businesses...

A financial professional can help assess your current financial situation, set realistic short and long-term goals, create a financial strategy to fit your needs, and help you take clear steps to put your plan into action. SMBs often lack a dedicated finance team, so adding the support of a financial professional may be integral to the financial success of your business (and takes the pressure off the business owner who can instead focus on other value-adding tasks like employee hiring and retention, succession planning and growing the business, for example).

It’s About Finding The Right fit

A financial professional can help cut through the confusion and create a personalized strategy to help you achieve your business goals.

As you start your search for a financial professional to meet your unique business needs, here are a few things to look for and consider:

  • How long have they been doing this work?

You may value someone who’s been in business a long time and has lots of experience, or you may prefer a less established financial professional who’s more open to new products and ideas. By asking for their time on the job, you can also sort out how they think about the work.

  • What are their credentials?

Look for the appropriate insurance licenses and securities registrations, as well as any professional designations, such as Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP® ). For instance, a CFP must meet minimum standards for holistic financial planning education, have at least two years of work experience, follow a clear code of ethics, and answer not only to their company but a CFP board.

  • What financial products can they offer?

It’s important to have access to a broad range of products that may suit your evolving needs over time, from mutual funds (which let you invest in a pool of stocks, bonds, and more in a single instrument) to managed portfolios (where the financial professional makes decisions on your behalf).

  • How do they work with their clients?

Some financial professionals will review your whole financial picture and build a comprehensive strategy. Some are great relationship builders, some are collaborative, and some prefer to focus on investment performance. All financial professionals have a process, so ask questions to learn what it’s like and whether that process fits your needs and personality.

  • What are their fees?

Everything has costs. Be sure to ask what you’re paying for beyond their compensation: Do you get a regular update on your financial status? Access to tools or an app? A special website?

As SMBs continue down the road to recovery, whether from the COVID-19 pandemic or through continued market volatility, a financial professional can help businesses through uncertainty. Good financial professionals stay on top of market trends and can make recommendations.

A financial professional is there to listen to and help guide business owners, tailoring a strategy to meet specific needs. It’s critical to find a financial professional whose experience and approach you trust.

 

 

1  2023 Business Owner Insights, Principal.
2 2023 Business Owner Insights, Principal.

 

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