Life revolves around relationships. Your family, friends, co-workers and those who serve you.

Changing a relationship after any long period isn’t easy. But changing a professional relationship that you’ve maintained for years is even harder to do. After all, the incumbent financial professional knows a lot about you and may have served you well at some point.

As professional relationships build, the hardest part is assessing whether you’re being served as well as you need to be. Most answer resoundingly that they’re satisfied with their service providers. But in many cases that I’ve seen, that feeling is built mostly on familiarity because in a long term relationship you may lose your ability to benchmark. You may not realize what new versions of excellent service may entail.

For example, if you’ve got an accountant who preps your taxes and the only conversations that you have each year are to tell you what you owe, you may be underserved. A pro-active CPA will reach out to their clients that may have opportunities to save on taxes, and discuss those opportunities with their clients who may want to reduce their tax bill.

Changing a professional relationship that you’ve maintained for years is even harder to do.

If your attorney who ‘did your wills’ tells you that your estate plan is done and current, ask again. Why haven’t you utilized trusts? Do you have a protection plan for elderly or minor beneficiaries; or are your children going to be cashing in your IRA at age 18 because they can?

If you have a money manager who’s charging you asset management fees, which can range from 1-1.5%, and there are gaps in your financial plan when looking past the investments, you may be underserved.

And last, if you have a life insurance agent who only calls you on the anniversary of your existing insurance policies just to see if you’ll buy another one, you may be underserved.

I think by now that you get the point. Any of your financial professionals that aren’t integrating with your other team members or who only stick to their ‘silo’ of expertise increases the risk that something may fall through the cracks of your plan.

If you start looking, and find another service provider who enlightens you about what you’re not getting from your team of incumbents, it may be time to change. And that is the difficult break up conversation.

To have this conversation with integrity, be honest. Praise the provider for what you thought was a good job. You may go further to say that you feel your needs have expanded, and that you don’t feel that the scope of the service provider’s assistance has grown in accordance with your needs and the gaps that you’ve discovered in your financial plans. At that point, you may very well hear, ‘we can do that for you’. Your response could be- why didn’t you offer to do that rather than waiting for me to discover the gaps?

By John P. Napolitano CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST Founder & Chairman Read More