Does my Financial Advisor Need to be Local?

Peter Hafner |

I just got off the phone with tech support for my home printer.

It’s pretty incredible, they were able to remote into my home network and get everything working in only a few minutes. Problem solved!

It makes me appreciate how much things have changed over the last couple of decades.

Do you remember how strange it was when you called an 800 number and talked with someone in India for the first time? Today it happens so often we hardly even notice.

More and more of the services we use today come from outside our local community. Sometimes they come from the other side of the world.

What does this mean for choosing a financial advisor?

The Investment and Financial Planning industry has had similar changes. Some good and some bad.

When I got started as an Investment Advisor back in the early 90s, it was mostly a local business based on face to face meetings.

Yes, most advisors did have clients spread throughout the country, but this was mostly a result of clients moving.  And often if a client reached a critical turning point in their life, like a death or divorce, it wasn’t uncommon for them to search out a local advisor they could meet with in person.

But things are different today and it has a lot to do with changing and improving technology.

web online meeting with financial advisor

How can I meet with an advisor who is not local?

Today it is easy for me to have regular meetings with my clients who live out of town by inviting them to web meetings.

This is in part because web cameras on computers are so prevalent. And if you don’t have one built into your PC, they are cheap enough and easy enough to use that pretty much anyone can set them up and use them.

Once your web camera is set up and working, it’s pretty easy to look your advisor in the eye while you are talking with each other.

Web meetings also make it possible for me to share my screen in such a way that I can show my clients everything in the web meeting that I would have shown him if we were in the same room together.

I actually have some local clients who prefer a web meeting to meeting in person because they enjoy the efficiency and time savings that they get by not needing to leave their home or office.

But what about signatures?

Another technological advancement that makes these web meetings practical is that original signatures are not needed in the same way they used to be.

Back when I got started as a Financial Advisor, If I needed anything signed, I had to get a piece of paper to the client, a signature on the page, and that same piece of paper delivered to the appropriate authority. But that is not the case anymore.

Today most people are able to receive papers by email or fax. They can then print them, sign them and then fax or email them back to us.

And most importantly, we mostly don’t need the original signature anymore.

This advancement in itself is one of the most important factors making it possible to do business with a Financial Planner or Advisor who is not in your local community. Prior to this change, the paperwork made working with a non-local advisor much more challenging.

Things to Consider

Although technology does make it possible to work with almost anyone anywhere in the world, it is important to make sure the person you choose is knowledgeable in those areas that are important to you.

For example, if you live in NY State, your financial advisor should have some understanding of how NY State taxes affect your financial plan and investment portfolio.

But if you are in the market for an Investment Advisor or Financial Planner, there is no longer any need to limit your search to only those individuals in your community.

Today you can cast a much wider net when searching for the best talent for you and your family.