Finding a financial advisor is like searching for the right candidate for a job. Experience, education, and professional credentials are important, but so is “personality fit.” Assessing how a prospective advisor’s personality meshes with yours can help in selecting someone you’ll feel comfortable working with to chart a course for achieving your financial goals. That’s why an important step in choosing a financial advisor is “the interview.”
Beyond getting questions answered, interviewing a prospective advisor provides the opportunity to learn about a prospective advisor’s communication style, interpersonal skills, and financial planning approach and philosophy. You’ll get a better sense as to whether or not this is someone you feel you can trust with details about your personal finances, lifestyle, family relationships, and more. In addition, you’ll be in a better position to determine if this person gives you the sense of confidence necessary for a strong working relationship.
An interview works best in a face-to-face meeting as body language, facial expressions, and eye contact can tell you a lot about a person. However, even a phone call can help you determine if a particular advisor is right for you.
The key is to ask the right questions. Make sure the answers you receive raise both your comfort level with and confidence in choosing a particular advisor. Prepare a list of questions. Approach this like a job interview, which in essence, it is. After all, you’re someone to help you develop and implement a plan to guide your pursuit of financial wellness.
While the following is not a comprehensive list of questions to ask, it can serve as a “thought starter” for helping you developing your own list of interview questions.
Who is your ideal client?
How do you measure success?
How involved will I be in decision-making?
How long have you been offering financial planning services?
How many clients do you work with yourself?
Do you have clients like me?
Do you have a business continuity plan?
What services will you provide and what will they cost me?
How will this relationship work? Will we meet on a regular basis or a certain number of times a year? Will we communicate primarily in person, by phone or using another method? Can I contact you any time I have questions, concerns or specific requests? Will I receive something from you in writing that outlines my financial goals and the plan for helping to achieve them? If there is a written plan, how often will you reassess and update it?
After interviewing a prospective advisor, assess the experience. Who did most of the talking? Did the advisor answer your questions clearly and directly? Did he or she use a lot of industry jargon? Do you feel comfortable with the way the conversation went? Do you feel like the person was someone you want to talk to again?
If you aren’t comfortable with the way things went, you can either give the advisor a second chance with a follow-up interview. Or, you can move on to the next advisor on your list. Once you’ve settled on a financial advisor, make your decision official. Contact the advisor you’ve selected to find determine next steps and prepare to get your financial future underway.
For more information about choosing a financial advisor, take advantage of the resources that follow. If you haven’t compiled a list of prospective advisors yet, use the LPL Find an Advisor tool to get started.