Last Updated: March 2, 2009
Choosing a financial planner is an important as choosing a doctor or lawyer. Working with a financial planner is a very personal relationship. FPA recommends that you interview at least three planners to ensure you find the right one to serve your needs. When interviewing a prospective financial planner it pays to have a script, a list of questions you can pose. As such, FPA has a list of interview questions you can use. The list is extremely comprehensive, however, FPA planners have other questions and advice to add.
For instance, FPA member Karin Maloney Stifler, CFP®, of True Wealth Advisors notes that it's important to get validation in writing whenever possible for your interview questions. In addition, she recommends obtaining not only client references when interviewing a planner, but professional references as well. When interviewing a planner, she recommends that you "ask these questions — unapologetically."
As you interview planners, also consider these points, says Stifler. You might find it challenging backing up the responses. And if you're comparing, interpreting responses apples-to-apples could be challenging as well.
For his part, FPA member Andy Millard, CFP®, of Main Street Financial Group recommends asking the following questions of a prospective planner:
- If you would be investing my money, tell me about your approach? Would you use individual stocks and bonds, mutual funds, ETFs? Would you outsource the portfolio management? If so, to whom?
- Do you use variable annuities? If so, why do you use them over other investment products?
- What would be the total charges for investment management? If you use funds, do you prefer load or no-load funds? Explain your answer.
And FPA member Michael J. Smith, CFP®, of RTD Financial Advisors recommends these questions:
- What services can I expect after the first year of our relationship, or after the end of the initial planning period?
- Could you describe your client service as it relates to annual reviews, updates of my financial plans and/or other ongoing services?
- How often should I expect to hear from you or someone from your office?
- Are there differences in your fees for your ongoing services versus your initial fees? "It has been my experience that this has been a difficult area for many planners so it may be an area worth probing," he said.
Visit FPA PlannerSearch® to find financial planners that can best suite your unique financial needs, interview questions and more.