In an earlier post “Seeking Total Wealth Management” I indicated I would post an article on the right questions to ask in seeking a total wealth management professional. Professional Association web sites can be a good start for some basic questions to get started. The Financial Planning Association (FPA)that serves over 30,000 financial advisors has a Checklist For Interviewing a Financial Planner. The National Association Of Professional Financial Advisors (NAPFA) that serves the fee-only advisors also has a checklist of questions to review before you begin you inquiries.
Both of these fine organizations do a great job of identifying basic issues from which to separate advisors with. Below I will identify some of the “really great financial advisor questions” that I have been asked in addition to the good ones these organizations have started with.
What makes a good client for you?
The answers will provide some insight into whether or not your needs, and more importantly values and styles of working, will be compatible. What are your long-term plans with respect to this/your business/career?
You are looking for how seriously this advisor has taken their own planning and also their seriousness about the career path they have chosen.
Is this a serious undertaking or just a job?
Describe client situations that haven’t worked out. It is unlikely all client situations have been ideal. If the answer of “they all have worked out” is it likely due to inexperience or worse.
Who will be working with me?
There is no right answer here. Some advisory firms work as a team, others do it by themselves. Occasionally you will find the initial contact is made by a sales person. You deserve to know who before you start.
Describe your investment process? Active or Passive? Who all is involved?
Once again you are looking for the best match overall. Is this firm in sync with your needs and beliefs?
How do you select the people you work with? Staff? Outside Professionals?
There are many right answers but it should make sense and be congruent with your value systems.
Outsourcing can be a good thing but you have a right to know who the players are.
A follow-up is “how will my privacy be assured in these relationships?”