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How important is it for me to get a second opinion about my finances?

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The late great comedian Rodney Dangerfield once said, “My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I wanted a second opinion. He said, ‘okay, you’re ugly too.’”

Countless comedians besides Dangerfield have found comic gold in the medical profession. Of course, in real life when it comes to “wanting a second opinion,” let’s say ahead of major surgery, it’s no joke. And the same can be said about the opinions of financial advisors. Getting a second opinion is good for your financial “health.”

To continue the medical analogy, in both medicine and finance, problems can arise even with simple symptoms: A routine X-ray reveals a broken bone. And a doctor finds that those same “simple” symptoms require very complex solutions—and a second doctor’s expert opinion. Before we get into the three essentials of a good financial second opinion, let’s briefly address what may be a stumbling block for some investors: loyalty.

Like many high net worth families, there is a very good chance you have been working with the same financial advisor for years, maybe even generations. It might be someone “who knew you when,” who advised you well as you accumulated your wealth, or maybe an advisor who has become a friend. In the interest of full disclosure, I have clients just like that, and after this essay is published, I will give each of them a copy. Because, while loyalty is admirable, here is what really matters”

That you and they are getting the advice that takes the best care possible of your families. A second opinion can confirm you already are getting the best care possible, or set you in a different direction. From a financial perspective, a good second opinion should include three essential items.

A second opinion can confirm you already are getting the best care possible, or set you in a different direction.

First, there should be an interview with you and your spouse. Make sure the interviewer is thorough, even “granular” to use a popular word, in ascertaining your goals, income objectives, tax issues and cashflow needs.

This should be at least an hour-long discussion. If it is not, you should question just how important it is to this advisor to get to know you well enough to intelligently and effectively talk to you in terms of creating strategies that meet your goals and objectives. To be done right, this first step in the process cannot be achieved via email, or via a simple 10-question survey. You probably know this, but while investment planning has a lot to do with spreadsheets and “number crunching,” it has just as much to do with the human element.

After your face-to-face interview, your second-opinion advisor should do an in-depth security-by-security analysis of your current holdings, and how they interact with one another. In my opinion, one of the single best lines from the book Liars Poker by Michael Lewis is: “Young stockbrokers are like amateur pharmacists, as they prescribe things to people without understanding the side effects.” Just as a pharmacist should know which prescription drugs should not be taken together, your financial advisor should keenly understand any possible side effects from the interaction of your various investments.

Lastly, like a custom-tailored garment made expressly for you, a second opinion should be able to match your goals, objectives, needs and income orientation with your holdings so that the two create a perfect fit.

Mark C. Hutchinson, CFA is a Financial Advisor with UBS Financial Services Inc. in Chicago. UBS Financial Services Inc. Financial Advisor(s) engage Worth to feature this article. As a firm providing wealth management services to clients, we offer both investment advisory and brokerage services. These services are separate and distinct, differ in material ways and are governed by different laws and separate contracts. For more information on the distinctions between our brokerage and investment advisory services, please speak with your Financial Advisor or visit our website at The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors. UBS Financial Services Inc., its affiliates and its employees are not in the business of providing tax or legal advice. Clients should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of UBS Financial Services Inc. a subsidiary of UBS AG. Member FINRA/SIPC.

This article was originally published in the October–November2016 issue of Worth.

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