Interview Questions to ask your Financial Planner

Generally, when one thinks of their investments and how they are managed, they focus on one factor — how well they have performed in the financial markets.


Recently a survey of financial investment clients reveals that another metric also determines if someone is happy with their financial advisor – it’s their personal relationship with their advisor. This points to the importance of hiring someone you genuinely like, respect and can do business with.

Be sure to interview more than one candidate, ask for referrals and recommendations. Do a background check and review their qualifications? Here are some initial interview questions you should be asking.

1. What services do you offer?

Not every advisor offers the same services. It is important to know if they have the capability to help you within your financial goal planning. If you are looking for retirement planning advice or want someone who can help with debt reduction or even starting an investment portfolio, all of these financial experts and products may not be housed under one firm. You should be sure to ask if they are not capable in one area, do they work with another team or company to make sure all your goals are met.

For example, Financial Advisor David Barcomb who is based out of Boston Massachusetts typically works with investors of high-net-worth and his expertise may be what is best for your goals.

2. What kinds of education and certificates do you have?

Financial advisors are required to hold a number of certificates and designations. Some of which are relevant to their particular expertise while others are received after strenuous testing, or a long number of hours in the field. You can also do a fairly effective background check through LinkedIn and even just a Google search.  Ask where they went to college, request to see their certificates and do your due diligence.

3. Can I talk to some of your current clients?

Referrals are the best way to get in contact with respected financial advisors.  Check references.  Not only should you ensure that the certificates and education that your financial advisor holds are legitimate but you should speak directly with clients. While their clients may have only good things to say, you can gain a lot of insight by asking them questions about how they do business. What level of communication you can expect? How well their portfolios have performed? What sorts of strategies did the financial advisor do to capitalize on a good market or get out of a bad one?

4. How well do you preform?

Doing a background check through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) BrokerCheck site. Will put your mind at ease for any regulatory, unlawful or unethical behaviors but it doesn’t speak to actual overall performance. Be sure to ask to see balance sheets and have the candidate explain how they managed their clients through times of good and bad economic times.

5. How are you paid?

There are two basic types of fee structure – a fee simple, usually a percentage of completed transactions or a retainer or even a project based fee. Advisors who are fee-based do not make a commission on the products they sell. Many feel this make conflict of interest issues rarer and safeguards your money.

There are products such as securities that are paid in commissions, so how you pay can depend on your own financial goals.