Finding a financial professional is like finding the right candidate for a job. Experience, education, and professional credentials are important, but so is personality fit. Assessing how a prospective financial professional'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 professional is the interview.
Beyond getting questions answered, interviewing a prospective financial professional provides the opportunity to learn about 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 financial professional 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 financial professional. Prepare a list of questions. Approach this like a job interview, which in essence, it is. After all, you’re searching for 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?
Do you have clients like me?
Do you have a business continuity plan?
What services will you provide and what will they cost me?
After interviewing a prospective financial professional, assess the experience. Who did most of the talking? Did he or she 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 financial professional a second chance with a follow-up interview, or you can move to the next one on your list. Once you’ve settled on a financial professional, make your decision official, and contact him or her to determine next steps and get your financial future underway.
For more information about choosing a financial professional, take advantage of the resources that follow. If you haven’t compiled a list of prospective financial professionals, use our financial professional search tool to get started.