A friend recently told me people often feel judged by their financial advisor. I don’t have any statistics, but I know I’m never keen to tell others about mistakes I’ve made in the past. Money is personal. It’s in the same category as sex and politics on the list of things you shouldn’t talk about – oh yeah, that’s so 20th century. We talk about everything now. Or maybe not. Talking about money is like opening that closet you don’t let most of the world see. If you have an advisor who won’t help you clean up that closet without making you feel like you’ve done something wrong, look for someone you can really talk to.

So how do you find that advisor? If you don’t want an advisor to judge you, how do you judge an advisor? The nice office, cool marketing? Someone a friend or colleague recommended? A person you heard talking on the radio? There’s no set way to find an advisor you’ll feel comfortable with and who will do a good job for you, but there are some things to try.

I always recommend people ask others who they recommend. Find out what experiences they’ve had with an advisor. Take some recommendations and seek out your own from other sources. Then get in touch. Some offices will impress you with their responsiveness, or the really helpful person who answers the phone. Then go talk to the advisors. The main thing you need to figure out from meeting with an advisor or group of advisors is if you can set up a good working relationship that includes trust and moving your best interests forward. The emphasis here is that the advisor should be working for you, not just managing your assets or giving you standard advice. Your circumstances are unique and the advice you get should be customized to you and for the purpose of furthering your goals.

And when it comes to our closet of past financial deeds, I hope you end up with a great walk-in closet you’re proud to show off.

Kristin Rodriguez