Top advice questions answered

Financial advisory services

Key Points

  • An Ameriprise advisor is backed by the expertise of teams of market specialists and thought leaders
  • Research shows that financial confidence and retirement readiness are higher among those with advisors¹
  • Personalized advice can help mitigate emotional decision making — a top retirement derailer

Have you ever wondered “what does a financial advisor do?” If so, you’re not alone. Many Americans are unaware of the benefits of working with an advisor and wonder why they shouldn’t just handle investing on their own. We asked Pat O’Connell, Executive Vice President of the Ameriprise Advisor Group, to tell us more about the benefits of a financial advisor and why their knowledge and experience is so valuable. 

What if you only need advice in one specific area of your finances?

Ameriprise advisors are well-equipped to provide a spectrum of financial planning advice, whether you want to focus on one aspect of planning or take a more comprehensive approach. An advisor is there to help you achieve your goals, regardless of how short or long your list is. Some people don’t have the time or interest to handle their investments, with all the research and options involved. Others like to do the research themselves but want to work with an advisor for a second opinion. An advisor can “meet you where you’re at” as far as desired level of involvement in financial planning. They’re also able to work in concert with other professionals in your employ, such as accountants or lawyers.

 Why is a human advisor more valuable than a robo-advisor?

In addition to helping with the analytical side of pursuing financial goals, an advisor can also take into account how events in your personal life, the economy, and the markets impact your overall financial plans. When it comes to personalized advice, an advisor brings together three valuable elements: focus on your specific situation, awareness of changing circumstances and a long-term view of personal goals.

“A financial advisor can help you maintain perspective on short-term circumstances without losing sight of the bigger picture.”
Pat O’Connell, Executive Vice President of the Ameriprise Advisor Group

Can an advisor help with the more emotional aspects of money management?

When you’re trying to achieve a goal, which can be years in the making, events that occur along that journey can be very unsettling. For example, when the Great Recession hit in 2008 and assets were down meaningfully, many people made long-term decisions based on short-term circumstances. A financial advisor can help you maintain perspective on current events without losing sight of the bigger picture. In addition to external factors like market challenges, there are personal events that can impact planning — disability, job loss, health issues — that can be even more emotional. An advisor can help streamline and prioritize decision-making during turbulent times so that you can stay focused on what’s important to you.

Which resources do advisors use in helping their clients?

In addition to their own skills and experience, Ameriprise advisors have access to a depth and breadth of expertise across the firm. As just one example, our Investment Research Group (IRG) provides ongoing perspective and analysis of the economy here and abroad. The IRG offers the type of unbiased market knowledge that allows advisors to connect external events to your portfolio and goals, and make real-time adjustments as needed — at a level of involvement you decide.

With taxes on everyone’s mind this month, are there ways an advisor can help clients navigate recent changes?

Whether you’re focused on saving for retirement or a child’s college education, there are a variety of tax strategies, programs and plans that can benefit you. A financial advisor, along with your tax advisor, can help you incorporate tax-advantaged vehicles and investments into an overall, long-term strategy.

What does a financial plan actually consist of?

A personalized, customized financial plan involves three elements. First, current financial position including cash flow and net worth. Second, your most important goals – understanding where you stand in achieving those goals and the path to get there. And third, protection or contingency planning for the unexpected, as well as estate planning strategies.

“An advisor can help incorporate tax-advantaged vehicles and investments into an overall long-term strategy.”
Pat O’Connell, Executive Vice President of the Ameriprise Advisor Group 

What are an advisor's qualifications, and why are they so important?

In addition to being licensed and registered to conduct business in certain states, many advisors have earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification. Becoming a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional includes extensive training and experience requirements and holds certificants to a rigorous ethical standard. They understand the complexities of the changing financial climate and must make recommendations in your best interest. As a company, we also support participation in numerous certification and training programs to help advisors build additional knowledge and gain experience about a variety of products and services.  

Do you have advice for those who feel behind in reaching their financial goals?

The job of a financial advisor is to help people get into a better position financially — there’s never really a so-called “perfect” position or point of arrival. But if you’re committed to taking certain steps, the vast majority of people should be able to create a more comfortable future for themselves and their family.

What are the costs associated with working with an advisor?

Just as with any other professional services — from attorneys to medical practitioners — there are fees for the guidance you receive. The level of financial advice you receive and products you use will factor into the Ameriprise fees you pay. Rest assured, we believe in providing transparency right up front. Your advisor will work to help ensure you’ll understand exactly what you’re getting and the related fees, before you pay anything.

Find out more

 Learn more about how an Ameriprise advisor can help you meet your financial goals, today and over a lifetime.

Pat O’Connell is Executive Vice President of the Ameriprise Advisor Group responsible for the overall leadership of employee advisors in the U.S. Pat has more than 25 years of experience in the financial planning and advice business. He’s a frequent speaker at media and consumer events, where he discusses financial planning matters as well as a variety of strategic and leadership development topics.




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