7 Revealing Questions You Should Ask Your Financial Advisor

Jill Mollner, MBA, CFP®
Wealth Advisor, RJFS
Branch Operations Manager, CFS

You’ve worked hard for your money and choosing who to trust with your finances is a big decision. Finding the best financial advisor might seem intimidating at first, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are 7 questions to ask when interviewing potential advisors:

1. What services can I expect?

While some advisors only offer basic investment planning, we cover all 5 areas of wealth management, so nothing falls through the cracks.

The 5 areas of wealth management are:

        • Investment Management
        • Risk Management
        • Retirement Planning
        • Estate Planning
        • Tax Planning Strategies

2. What type of education, accreditations and licenses do you have?

Most people think all financial planners are “certified,” but the fact is anyone who is licensed to sell these products and give advice can use the title “financial planner.” The wealth advisors at Cornerstone Financial Solutions have committed to hold the CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) designation or be working to complete the rigorous certification process.

The CFP® designation is considered the standard of excellence in financial planning, requiring a college degree. CFP® professionals have developed theoretical and practical knowledge by completing demanding education, examination, experience, and ethical requirements, and agree to continued monitoring and continuing education.

3. How long have you been in business?

Most people only retire once in their life, but through helping our clients, our team has essentially retired thousands of times. It is easier to avoid a mistake than correct one, so let us provide our knowledge and lessons we have learned over the years (140 years combined team experience and 30 years in business) to help you.

4. How many people are on your team?

Team-based wealth advice offers many advantages over a solo-advisor approach. More advisors and team members mean having access to a broader scope of knowledge, expertise, capabilities, and service offerings, and you won’t lose years of valuable planning to someone you don’t know.

5. Are you a fiduciary?

Advice from our advisors is conflict-free and is never related to the possibility of earning a potential commission. Acting in a fiduciary capacity, our advisory clients’ best interests are always at the center. We don’t offer products designed to generate unnecessary or excessive fees. Our advisors offer comprehensive financial planning and make investments that are consistent with your risk tolerance and goals.

6. What are your fees? 

We believe in full transparency and full disclosure – especially when it comes to fees. At Cornerstone Financial Solutions, we offer mostly fee-based planning. Simply put, we are on the same side of the table as you, we participate in the gains, and we participate in the losses. When you do well, we do well.

7. What is your succession plan?

A succession plan ensures that a business can continue to run smoothly after an important role becomes vacant. At Cornerstone, we have an internal, built-in succession plan so that any transition will be smooth.

When choosing a wealth advisor, you are likely starting what will be a life-long relationship. You will be sharing personal details about your financial situation, dreams, and goals, so it’s important to work with someone you trust and feel comfortable with.

We’ve created a guide, “How to Choose a Wealth Advisor,” to empower people like you, who want to dream big, build wealth, and lead a life of impact. The guide includes a full list of questions and considerations to use when interviewing advisors. Download the guide or call our office at 605-357-8553 to request one.

I’d love to visit with you about your dreams. Feel free to contact our office at 605-357-8553 or cfsteam@mycfsgroup.com.

Sometimes less isn’t more – Learn Why Having a TEAM of Advisors and Professionals is Beneficial

Jill Mollner, MBA, CFP®
Wealth Advisor, RJFS
Branch Operations Manager, CFS

I’ve been in the financial planning industry for a little over 17 years and when making the decision to join Cornerstone one of the things that attracted me was the team-based wealth management versus a solo approach. 

Team-based wealth advice offers many advantages over a solo-advisor approach. With a large team of professionals in place, we can say, “This is how we are going to take care of you,” so that you have comfort and reassurance even if someone you normally work with is out of the office. 

Team-based wealth management means:

    • A broader scope of knowledge, expertise, and skills from multiple advisors and team members
    • Confidence that our internal Investment Committee structure ensures your investments are managed, even if your primary advisor is out.
    • A simple and smooth transition when your primary financial advisors retires, thanks to a built-in succession plan and established systems. You won’t lose years of valuable planning to someone you don’t know.

We often say that “Helping you build a financial plan to achieve what’s truly possible is what we do – Empowering you to pursue greater dreams is who we are.” Having a large team in place allows us to do just that.

You’ve worked hard for your money. Our team of wealth advisors has a deep understanding of financial planning, allowing us to give you the highest quality of service there is. 

While some advisors only offer basic investment planning, we cover all 5 areas of wealth management, so nothing falls through the cracks. Those 5 areas include:

    • Investment Management
    • Risk Management 
    • Retirement Planning
    • Estate Planning
    • Tax Planning Strategies

You don’t have to settle for the status quo. When your life and wealth are built on a Cornerstone, you can pursue greater dreams and make the impact you’re truly capable of making – in your life, in the lives of those you love, and in your legacy. If you’re ready to begin living the life you’ve imagined contact us at 605-357-8553 or at cfsteam@mycfsgroup.com.


5 Lessons I Learned from Previous Bear Markets

2023 will mark 30 years in this business, so I have been through my share of market downturns.  And like you, I don’t enjoy them either!  With my experience I have learned a lot of valuable lessons.



1. Downturns are only temporary:  

If history has shown me anything, it’s that even the worst bear markets don’t last forever.  No one knows for certain how long with downturn will last or how far stock prices might drop. 



Previous bear markets weren’t easy, either. During the Great Recession, the S&P 500 fell around 57%. When the dot-com bubble burst, it dropped close to 50%. During the coronavirus crash, the market plummeted by around 33% in a matter of weeks.



Despite everything, though, the market eventually bounced back. No matter how severe this downturn becomes, things will get better.



2. I’ve seen this before: 

There are thoughtful, experienced economists and professional investors who can give you well-reasoned arguments why this bear market is different, why the economic problems are different and why this time things may get worse. But while some others might tell you, “This time is different,” my message to you is, “I’ve seen this before.”  I don’t know if the current decline will fit into the bear markets past. But what I do know is that every bear period has eventually ended, and the market started back up again.



3. A better tomorrow: 

Over time, and in time, the financial markets have demonstrated a remarkable ability to anticipate a better tomorrow even when today’s news feels awful. While no one can predict the future, and no two market declines are the same, we have been here before. We’ve learned how to survive and prosper when markets begin to recover.



4. Perfect timing is impossible: 

The fact that no one knows when a bear market will end is one reason it’s a mistake to put off investing or pull money out of the market. Compounding the problem, stocks tend to surge at the start of a new bull market. So, by the time it’s obvious that the bear market is over, a big chunk of the gains is already in the books.  



5. Market disturbances are a fact of life for investors:





Sources: MSCI, RIMES. As of 6/30/22. Data is indexed to 100 on 1/1/87, based on the MSCI World Index from 1/1/87–12/31/87, the MSCI ACWI with gross returns from 1/1/88–12/31/00, and the MSCI ACWI with net returns thereafter. Shown on a logarithmic scale. Returns are in USD.



As long as I’ve been in this business, I’ve seen the market swing from excessive enthusiasm to extreme pessimism. Warren Buffett said it best: “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” Put another way, bear markets are an investor’s friend, provided they remain calm, patient and focus on the long term.