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What To Look For When Choosing a Wealth Manager

Working with an experienced wealth manager is one of the smartest financial decisions you can make to safeguard your income and investments.

Couple meeting with a wealth manager

No one can predict the future, but taking time to plan your finances will benefit you for years to come. That’s especially the case when it comes to your retirement savings.
Working with an experienced wealth manager is one of the smartest financial decisions you can make to safeguard your income and investments for your later years. And that’s why it’s crucial that you pick one that works well for you and your financial situation.

What is a Wealth Manager?

A wealth manager is an expert in many financial matters, particularly investments and long-term financial planning. They specifically work with individuals with a high net worth and, as a result, often take over the day-to-day management of that individual’s financial assets.

For most people at the beginning of their earning years, a wealth manager is likely only necessary if they have a significant amount of inherited or earned wealth at that point in life and want to start investing straight away. 

Most wealth managers work with people with more complex assets to manage and may require additional help come tax time or throughout the year. Working with a professional can give you peace of mind that your investments, especially those for retirement, are being well-managed and are working to your benefit in the most effective way.

What to Consider When Choosing a Wealth Management Advisor

Practices Locally

It’s easy to pick a wealth manager online, but working with someone local to you has several benefits. 

Working in the same time zone can be especially helpful when trying to arrange meetings, and you always have the option to discuss your finances face-to-face if they’re within a short distance of your home or work, which can help build your professional relationship. And when your wealth manager gets to know you better, they can more effectively advise you on what steps to take with your finances.

Local wealth managers are also familiar with the cost of living in your area, which can be helpful when planning for retirement and deciding where to make investments. They’ll also be familiar with any city or state laws and regulations you should be aware of, especially around taxation.

Has Your Best Interest in Mind

When you’re handing over the responsibility of managing your money to someone else, you want to know that they will act according to what’s best for you. Fiduciary financial advisors are obligated to act in your best interest rather than trying to earn a commission through recommending particular services or products.

You should always feel comfortable asking your wealth manager financial questions that you are curious about. Questions can be as simple as budgeting or asking for 401(k) plan recommendations or health savings accounts. Whenever you have a financial concern or question, your wealth manager should be there to respond and guide you.


Naturally, you want your wealth manager to be reputable and trustworthy. Use an online resource like FINRA Broker Checker to research the background of brokers and advisors and ask your network for any of their personal recommendations.

For additional security and benefits, consider working with a local known financial institution. Many have wealth advisors on staff who can help you better plan your future finances and investments. When looking for a new wealth manager, always ask who will have access to your accounts and who will be available to answer any questions when you need support.

Builds Your Investor Profile

A good wealth manager will focus on building your investment profile. They should discuss this with you from your very first meeting, or they may even send you questions about your current investments and future desires for investing ahead of your first meeting.

Many of the questions your wealth manager will ask will likely be around your risk tolerance. Knowing how comfortable you are with risk will help them decide the best strategy based on both this and your age. 

Often, the younger the investor, the riskier they are. Tolerance for risk decreases the older you get, but that’s not always the case. A good wealth manager will consider all of this when building your investment strategy.

Along with investments, your wealth manager should also discuss any specific financial goals you have in mind and will accommodate these in your plan.

Offers a Variety of Wealth and Investment Planning Services

A wealth manager isn’t only there to look after your retirement plan. There are many other financial planning needs that you might have that a good manager should be able to support you with. For example, a full-service wealth management team should offer the following wealth management services:
  • Mutual funds: These provide investors with diversified assets of stocks, bonds, and other securities by pooling the assets of investors.
  • Stocks, bonds, and CDs: Diversifying investments through stocks can come with risks, but bonds and brokered CDs can lower market-related risk for long-term investments.
  • IRAs and 401(k) rollovers: Contributing to retirement plans can lower your taxable income each year and help you save for the future.
  • Trust services: Ensuring that your loved ones can gain access to your financial legacy after you are gone is an important part of financial planning. Your wealth manager should be able to advise you on trusts that will benefit your family.
  • Estate planning and settlement: Beyond trusts, wealth managers should also advise you on other important estate planning information like health power of attorney and how to manage other assets upon your passing. Read Estate Planning 101 to learn more. 
  • Tax planning: Knowing where you can save money on your taxes each year and how you can best prepare to file is also a responsibility that your wealth manager has.
  • Other investing options: If there are other types of investments you’re interested in, it’s always best to discuss these with your wealth manager before moving your money.
  • College savings plans: Saving for your children’s future college education can benefit you come tax time while also providing them with a financial boost for tuition and college expenses.
  • Annuities: Issues through life insurance companies, annuities can provide you with income during retirement and tax advantages upon distribution.

The right wealth manager will help you determine which types of investments and financial products are right for you. Even if you don’t need some right now, they should be able to support you as your financial situation changes over the coming years and make changing or adding products a simple process.

Has a Suitable Payment Structure

Every financial professional will operate differently and have their own payment structure, so it’s important to understand the options available before meeting with anyone.

Fee-only advisors:

  •  Assets under management - you’ll pay a fee based on the amount of money the company manages.
    • Flat rate retainer - this is typically set monthly or annually and depends on the amount of money you will be investing and the complexity of your financial situation.
    • Hourly fee - you only pay for the time needed to manage your account, regardless of the asset size. There are usually no ongoing services for hourly rates.
    • Per plan fee - you’re charged for the initial creation of the financial plan but have no ongoing management services provided to you.Fee-based advisors:
  • These advisors may also accept a commission from your investments on top of the fee they charge you for management. The fee could include payouts when they buy or sell products like stocks or bonds on your behalf.

Commission-only advisors:

  • You don’t pay any fee to the management company; a third party pays fees through sales commissions. These are not fiduciary advisors, so they may not always be working in your best interests—their goal is to sell you financial products to earn a commission. This isn’t always a bad thing, but you need to know this information upfront.
There’s no right or wrong payment structure to go with, but understanding the options available to you will help you make a decision you’re comfortable with and that suits your financial situation.

Gives You Access to View Your Assets

Any good wealth manager should always allow you to view your assets in real time, without needing to contact them first. Look for advisors that have the technology to do this. 

FNBT offers trust account access online, making it quick and easy to check your assets whenever you like.

Have Questions for a Wealth Manager?

When you’re looking to work with a wealth advisor to better manage your assets, the Wealth Management team at First National Bank and Trust is here to help. Our team practices locally in Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois and specializes in wealth management. Contact a wealth manager today to get started.

Check the background of our investment professionals on FINRA's BrokerCheck.

Securities and insurance products are offered through Cetera Investment Services LLC (doing insurance business in CA as CFG STC Insurance Agency LLC), member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services are offered through Cetera Investment Advisers LLC. Neither firm is affiliated with the financial institution where investment services are offered. Investments are:
• Not FDIC/NCUSIF insured
• May lose value
• Not financial institution guaranteed
• Not a deposit
• Not insured by any federal government agency

View Cetera Investment Services privacy policy, other important information and Business Continuity Plan.

This site is published for residents of the United States only. Registered Representatives of Cetera Investment Services LLC may only conduct business with residents of the states and/or jurisdictions in which they are properly registered. Not all of the products and services referenced on this site may be available in every state and through every advisor listed. For additional information please contact the advisor(s) listed on the site, visit the Cetera Investment Services LLC site at Located at: 345 East Grand Ave, Beloit, WI 53512 800-667-4401