Our financial adviser says ‘we are locked in’ and the market dropping will not affect us. But she never connects with us unless we call her. Does this sound right?

Question: Our financial advisor set us up for our retirement plan and said we are locked in and the market dropping will not affect us. But she never connects with us unless we call her. Does this sound right? (Looking for a new financial adviser? This tool can help match you with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

Answer: There are two issues going on here — your adviser’s lack of communication and how your adviser invested your money  — so let’s tackle them one by one. First, you should feel comfortable with your adviser and that she is personally invested in your financial wellbeing. Proactive adviser-client relationships entail meeting at least once a year, if not two or three times based on client complexity, says certified financial planner Shawn Ballinger at Columbus Street Financial Planning. “A good adviser will make sure there has not been any material change to your circumstances or planning and lifestyle goals,” says Ballinger.

That said — and assuming you want to work with this adviser (more on that later) — you may need to more clearly tell her your expectations about communication. “Call, make an appointment and come up with a communication plan that works for both you and your adviser,” says certified financial planner Don Grant. And at the end of the day, if you’re feeling neglected or out of the loop, “find a better adviser that fits your needs and expectations,” says certified financial planner Chris Russell of Tempus Pecunia. 

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Another big issue with her communication, aside from its infrequency, is that it doesn’t sound like she has clearly communicated how she has invested your money with you. Grant says it sounds like your adviser may have put your assets into some form of an annuity. “Whether it’s an insurance policy or not, it’s important to review, monitor and potentially make changes to the investments as your life and needs change,” Grant says. 

And know this: Even if your adviser has you in a product that limits or even removes the downside exposure, you are likely paying for that in some way. “Whenever someone offers to remove risk, there is going to be something you are giving up for that reduced risk,” says certified financial planner Treavor Dodsworth at Sycamore Financial. You need to fully understand what the investment is and what the tradeoffs are. (Looking for a new financial adviser? This tool can help match you with an adviser who might meet your needs.)

Certified financial planner Eric Presogna at One Up Financial says this sounds like an insurance broker disguised as a financial adviser, which is why it’s important to do some due diligence for the sake of your investments. “Know your fees, understand what you’re invested in and start shopping for a different adviser whose fees are transparent, is a fiduciary and who never says the phrase ‘locked in’,” says Presogna. 

Have an issue with your financial planner or want to hire a new one? Email [email protected]

The Advicer questions are edited for brevity and clarity.

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