When we meet with a prospective client for the first time we have, what we call the “Is there a Fit” agenda. Many of you have heard of this and many of you have seen this agenda. This is a way for the prospective client to interview us and a way for us to interview them to be sure we both think there’s a fit to work together. So, what do you ask a financial advisor you’re meeting for the first time? Some of the questions that come to mind are pretty easy, but what else do you need to know to be sure you’re making the right decision?
I’ll start with the easy ones that you probably thought of when you first saw the title:
- How long have you been doing this?
- This is more for curiosity – there are plenty of newer financial advisors that are great so don’t be put-off if it’s been a short time. As long as he or she is in a good office with good mentors, at a good company and you think this person is competent then a short time frame shouldn’t make you nervous.
- What’s your background?
- What are your fees/fee schedule?
- Most advisors should tell you up front, but if not ask and it may be based on complexity of your situation, assets that will be at the firm or an hourly rate. Just get the facts upfront so you’re not surprised later.
- What are your values?
Maybe other ones came to mind as well, but here are a few more that I think are important to ask:
- What do I get: What are the exact services and deliverables I get for the fee?
- Ask this because all financial advisors charge fees differently and for different services – you will want everything to be transparent.
- What is your financial planning and investment planning process?
- You want to be sure that there is a method to get to your goals and how to specifically invest your money based on your specific situation.
- What should someone in my situation and/or age be doing with my finances – in general terms?
- Be sure the financial advisor works other people like you and has an idea on what’s important for each stage of life you’ll be going through
- Who manages the portfolios?
- Some financial advisors do not manage portfolios and some do – you want to be sure you know who will be investing your portfolio and monitoring it
- What are your qualifications?
- These are probably on a Financial Advisor’s website or business card, but be sure to know their qualifications
- How will my family benefit from working with you?
- You might get the deer-in-headlights look, but hopefully you won’t. This is really why you’re here right? What’s the benefit to work with this financial advisor over someone else?
- How will you communicate with me and how should I communicate with you?
- What you want here is a specific schedule and/or plan to communicate with you. You also need to be able to tell them how you want to be communicated with as well; if you hate email let them know; if you only liked to contacted early in the morning let them know.
There could be several other questions to ask specific to your situation, but try to get to all of these points in the first meeting. This way, you should have what you need to either move forward with your new relationship or back away. Also, don’t forget about the internet! Always Google someone you’re interested in meeting; you will probably find their website if they have one, you may find out what other organizations they are involved in and Google will probably pull-up any social media accounts they may have.
If there’s anything I can do for you please let me know.
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™