What To Look For In A Financial Advisor With Juan Preciado Of Equitable Advisors

Working in the customer service area of a community-based bank, Juan Preciado was used to fielding the same types of phone calls every day. People wanting to check their balances. Needing to find out why their account was negative. Curious about something they didn’t understand on their statement. 

Then one day, he picked up the phone and someone had a very different question to ask him.

“They wanted to know what to do with the million-dollar inheritance that they’d just received,” Preciado recalled. “That definitely piqued my interest.”

Preciado connected the caller with a financial advisor at the bank who could handle that type of request. Then, because he was so intrigued, he reached out to that person to find out what being a financial advisor was all about.

“He explained the process, what he did to help people, what the overall objectives were and the resources that he had at hand,” Preciado said. “And at that point, it sounded even more appealing to me.”

After talking it over with his wife, Preciado decided that he wanted to pursue becoming a financial advisor himself. He dove in with enthusiasm, studying for his exams, getting his licenses and networking so he could prove himself to his colleagues. As luck would have it, due to a lot of movement within the bank, a financial advisor position opened up and Preciado took it. And it wasn’t long before he had an aha moment.

“One morning, it was about 11 a.m. and the mentor I was working with told me he had to head out to a meeting,” Preciado said. “And when he came back, he looked a little different so I asked him ‘did you get a haircut? I thought you had a work meeting?’ And he’s like ‘no, I had a meeting with my barber to get a haircut.’”

That simple interaction made a major impression on Preciado and solidified his decision to become a financial advisor.

“I had been in customer service my entire life since I was 16,” Preciado said. “And that’s all I’ve ever known is working not even just 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. but working retail hours. When he told me that he’d gotten a haircut in the middle of the day, I thought ‘what in the world?’ but he said ‘listen, I’ve built up my books and helped so many people at this point that if I want to take time off with my kids, I can. If they have a soccer game, I’m there. I don’t have to ask anybody. Time for me is much more valuable than money.’”

Those words really resonated with Preciado, who had two kids at the time and hated the idea of missing out on special moments with them because he had to work.

“I realized that my objective was no longer to be a millionaire,” Preciado said. “I knew what I really wanted was to become a ‘time millionaire.’”

With his wife’s support and his priorities firmly outlined in his mind, Preciado began to fully immerse himself in his role as a financial advisor. And he quickly realized how many opportunities there were for him to make a positive impact in the lives of his clients.

“There are a lot of people within this industry who are not good and are just out to take advantage of others,” Preciado said. “I’ve talked with a lot of people who have worked with other advisors and what they thought they got, they actually don’t have. There are a lot of scams out there.”

Keeping people away from advisors who don’t have their best interests at heart has become one of Preciado’s goals and it’s something that he, unfortunately, has firsthand experience with. When his mother passed away unexpectedly, his father received an insurance check. Preciado gave him some advice on what to do with the money but couldn’t directly help him because he was in a different state at the time and his father’s bank had very stringent regulations. 

“The advisor my dad was working with did set him up in the way I suggested, but then that advisor reassigned him to a brand-new person who didn’t do anything,” Preciado said. “It was one of those things where ‘I’ve got my commission check – I’m good. See you later.’ That really irked me, to put it lightly.”

Aside from being able to offer protection to his clients, Preciado also really enjoys helping business owners as they plan for the future.

“Business owners have a very significant impact on society, on job creation and on money movements,” he said. “I like to be able to help them scale their businesses and do it in a tax efficient, cost effective way that gives them extra time in their day to help more people and their communities.”

Looking back over the last seven years, Preciado – now a financial advisor with Equitable Advisors in Minneapolis – couldn’t be happier with his career path. On a typical day (“a typical day is not very typical,” he said with a laugh), he’ll talk with his clients about how to deal with significant life changes – both planned and unplanned – and advise them on what to do based on their financial situation and their goals.

“My job is to shoulder all the burdens when people come to me and they’re not sure what to do and answer their ‘what if’ questions,” he said. “What if my spouse passes away? What if there’s a big downturn in the market? What if I lose my job? I’m very much like a financial GPS. My job is to help them navigate through their journey. They just tell me what their destination is.”

What does Preciado enjoy most about his job? Well, there are a number of things. He’s always happy when clients refer him to their friends and family because they know he’ll take care of them. He likes educating people and giving them ‘light bulb’ moments. And he’s honored to be able to support his clients, build meaningful relationships and be a touchpoint for them during the most significant experiences of their lives. As a result, he’s gotten plenty of invitations to weddings and retirement parties (“no births yet, but I’m OK with that,” he joked). He remembers one such event – a funeral for a client who was a prominent figure in the local business community – where there were hundreds of people in attendance. He was waiting in a long line to pay his respects when the client’s wife saw him and waved him up to the front.

“I didn’t feel like I deserved that or earned it, but it was just this sense of family,” he said. “I looked at her and said ‘you’re going to be fine. I’ve got everything taken care of. You just focus on your family and I’ll handle everything else.’ She broke down because she had been so worried and I told her she didn’t have to be. That’s what I’m here for.”

If you’re looking for a financial advisor who you can trust to take care of you and your family, it requires plenty of due diligence on the front end. Not sure where to get started or what to ask? Here are a few of Preciado’s recommendations on the best way to find a good advisor:

  • Talk to multiple people: When you’re having work done at your home, you probably interview a few different contractors and get a few quotes before moving forward. Choosing a financial advisor should be no different and Preciado recommends talking to two or three people before deciding who to work with. “These people are going to handle your nest egg,” Preciado said. “You need to make sure they’ll do the right thing for you.” 


  • Do your research: As you prepare for your face-to-face meetings, do a little online research. Preciado suggests going on the BrokerCheck website and running the advisor’s name to find out the person’s employment history, the certifications and licenses they hold and whether they’ve had any regulatory actions taken against them. Additionally, he suggests looking for advisors with at least three years of experience with one firm and ideally seven years of overall market experience. The more time they’ve had in the industry, the better equipped they’ll be to navigate economic ups and downs effectively. Preciado also recommends being wary of advisors who frequently change firms within a short timeframe. It can indicate they’re mainly focused on their own financial well being and not on taking care of their clients. 


  • Ask a lot of questions: When you’re meeting with prospective advisors, it’s always good to ask about their processes, products and technology infrastructure to make sure their firm can give you what you need. Also, find out how they follow up with their clients and what will happen should that advisor start taking on a lot of new people. You want to make sure they’ll still have time for you and you won’t be pushed to the side, Preciado said. Additionally, it’s a good idea to talk about expectations, especially as it relates to communication style and frequency. Ideally, these conversations will give you a clear idea of how the advisor operates and whether they seem like someone who truly cares about protecting your best interests. It can take time to find someone who’s the right fit for you but that’s OK. Your financial future is worth it!


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