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Why Your Advisor Doesn't Need to Be Local

When I call tech support for my home printer, it’s incredible. They can access my home network remotely and get everything working in only a few minutes. More and more of the services we use today come from outside our local community. Sometimes they even come from the other side of the world. The investment and financial planning industry has had similar changes.

When I started as an investment advisor back in the early 1990s, it was a local business based on face-to-face meetings. Most advisors did have clients spread throughout the country, but this was mostly a result of clients moving. 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 that they could meet with in person. (For more, see: What Type of Person Needs a Financial Advisor?)

How Technology Has Changed Interaction

Things are different today and it has a lot to do with changing and improving technology. It is easy for me to have regular meetings with my clients who live out of town by inviting them to web meetings. Web cameras on computers are prevalent. If you don’t have one built into your PC, they are cheap and easy to use. Once your web camera is set up and working, you can look your advisor in the eye while you are talking with each other.

Web meetings make it possible for me to share my screen so that I can show my clients everything that I would have shown them if we were in the same room together. I have some local clients who prefer a web meeting to meeting in person, because they enjoy the efficiency and time savings they get by not needing to leave their home or office.

When I got started as a financial advisor, if I needed anything signed, I had to get a piece of paper to the client, get a signature on the page and then deliver that exact same piece of paper to the appropriate authority. Today, most people are able to receive papers by email or fax. Then they can print, sign and then fax or email them back to us.

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 more challenging.

Local Expertise Still Key

Although technology makes 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 New York state, your financial advisor should have some understanding of how New York State taxes affect your financial plan and investment portfolio. However, 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. You can cast a wide net when searching for the best talent for you and your family. (For more from this author, see: Why Working With An Advisor Shouldn't Be Scary.)