What You Should Be Asking Your Potential Financial Planner

DECEMBER 14, 2018
Conor Killmurray
With so many services available at your fingertips, personal financial planning has never been easier. But the reality of your situation may demand a more trained eye take a look at your finances. Having oversight of your own accounts is always going to be important, but it doesn’t have to be something you take on alone. So, if you choose the route of professional help, here are the questions you should be asking every financial planner you work with.finance financial planning plan retire save money

Are you a fiduciary?

In the simplest terms, a fiduciary is someone that manages someone else’s assets. Financial planners fall under this umbrella as do money managers, bankers, accountants, and corporate officers. If you use their services, they are ethically bound to act in your best interest.

Designation as a fiduciary means that that person should be looking out for you, so make sure your potential financial planner is up front about their intentions before you go into business with them.

What licenses and credentials do you have?

Odds are you wouldn’t get hired to a practice without a potential employer screening your education and experience. Looking into a potential financial advisor is pretty much the same thing – education and experience can give you a good idea of what to expect.

Make sure they passed some combination of series 6, 7, 63, 65, or 66 tests, which are tests anyone looking to work as a financial advisor must pass in order to obtain their necessary licenses. For instance, a series 7 license allows an advisor to pretty much sell every type of investment product, and a series 63 license allows them to work in the state in which they live. Also, make sure they have insurance that can cover the unexpected. Never hand over your money without some sort of policy backing it up that can protect you in an emergency.

What services do you provide and how much will it cost?

Once you’ve made sure a potential financial advisor is up to snuff, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Even if they have the best credentials, their rate might be too high. On the other hand, maybe their rate is within your budget, but they only specialize in retirement savings and you want to focus on wealth management. These are the particulars that you will have to hash out as you look for the financial advisor that best suits your unique needs. Speak with them one on one, because their websites might only contain the basics.

Can I see a sample plan?

No two practices are alike. The people that make them up are unique and the direction given to them is unique as well, so unless you’re seeking financial advice from a large corporate firm, odds are this is similar for every financial advisor you come across. Some may work with a team, others individually, or maybe they’re entirely online.

Each different approach will result in discrepancies in how their plans will look. You might get a mountain of graphs or a simple bulleted list. Ensure that their plans match the way you want to see your finances drawn out. Do they make sense without too much explaining? Are they efficient? You don’t want to purchase a planning method that takes too much time and effort to interpret.

Think of your hunt for a financial advisor the same way you might go about finding a job or a new hire. Be thorough and start with these questions as a way to assess which financial advisor might work best for you and be willing to keep a line of communication open with them. Take your time and be smart: your financial health depends on it.

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