Money woes? It could be time to dump your financial advisor

Personal finance

Not every relationship lasts forever. And the one with your financial advisor doesn’t need to, either.

If the market’s wild ride and your recent returns have made you rethink the advice you’ve been getting, it could be time to consider a switch.

However, knowing when or how to break up with your advisor is difficult. “Breaking up is hard to do and that is so true of an advisory relationship,” said Kevin Keller, the CEO of Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

“He or she knows your hopes and dreams, your fears and even the mistakes you’ve made with money.”

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An increasing number of people are willing to pay for financial advice, but they are also more likely to switch providers to capture better value, according to a recent study of wealth management clients by EY.

One-third of clients have switched providers or moved their money in the past three years and another third plan to do so in the next three years, the report said.

Fresh starts happen most often during times of change, EY found, such as getting married, starting a new job or having children.

Yet you don’t have to wait for a life-changing moment. It’s always important to understand the type of advice you’re getting and if it still fits your needs. Here’s how to know if it’s time to go:

Your financial situation changed; the advice did not

If your financial situation has changed, but you’re getting the same advice that you received last year, five years ago or even over last decade, that’s a problem. It shows there is a disconnect between you and the person who’s helping to manage your investments.

“Since the financial crisis, we’ve seen 10 versions of the iPhone, yet many firms haven’t changed anything they’ve done,” said certified financial planner Barry Glassman, founder and president of Glassman Wealth Services and a member of the CNBC Financial Advisors Council.

From financial planning to software and clients’ statements, “has it kept up with the times?” Glassman said. “In today’s world, firms need to show that they are updating.”

They don’t communicate as regularly as you’d like

You may have developed a long-term relationship, even friendship, with your advisor, but that doesn’t mean they can take you for granted.

As firms grow, advisors may pawn off some clients to their junior associates or you may now receive newsletters instead of personal emails or phone calls.

Still, you should always expect a high level of customer service and regular communication with your advisor.

Your advisor only calls to make a trade or sell a product

On the flip side, your advisor may call you even more often than you need, but only to make a trade or sell a product. That’s a red flag.

Ask detailed questions about why he or she is recommending a specific mutual fund, annuity or life insurance policy, including whether a commission is being earned by selling it to you.

Your advisor doesn’t explain their fees

One of the key questions you should ask an advisor is how they make money.

“There is no free advice,” Keller said. However, professionals can work under a variety of different payment models. Some fiduciaries charge a management fee based on the total investment amount they are managing for you. Others might make a commission. Either way, “you should know the clear and easy answer,” Keller said.

If your advisor gets a commission on the sale of a product, they are not a “fiduciary,” which means their objective is not necessarily to recommend the best products for you but the products that pay them the most.

Above all else, make sure the advisor adheres to the “fiduciary standard,” which requires them to put your interests above their own. It’s a standard that is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and state securities regulators.

And, if you do decide to find a new advisor that better fits your needs, do a background check and be aware of where your money is held.

CHECK OUT: 53% of people saving for retirement are making the same mistake via Grow with Acorns+CNBC.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

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