How to Interview a Financial Advisor

Interviewing a financial advisor is a critical step in finding the right professional to manage your financial well-being. Financial advisors often have various titles like wealth advisor or financial planner, but their services, skills and fees may differ. For this article, we will use the term financial advisor as it is one of the most common titles for professionals providing financial planning and asset management. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to interview a financial advisor:

Research and Preparation:

Before the interview, research the basics of financial planning and understand your own financial goals, needs, and preferences. This will help you ask relevant questions and assess whether the planner’s approach aligns with your objectives.

Compile a List of Candidates:

Ask for recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues. You can also search online for a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in your area by using Compile a list of potential candidates to interview.

Check Credentials:

When it comes to financial advisors, credentials matter.  Verify the credentials of the financial advisors on your list. Look for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), Certified Public Accountant/Personal Financial Specialist (CPA/PFS) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), which indicates a certain level of expertise and professional experience.  Great advisors are always looking for ways to better their proficiency. 

Set Up Interviews:

Reach out to the advisors on your list and schedule interviews. Most advisors offer initial consultations for free. This is a chance for both you and the advisor to assess if there’s a good fit.

Prepare Questions:

Prepare a list of questions that cover a range of topics to get a thorough understanding of the advisor’s qualifications and approach. Here are some sample questions:

  1. What is your background and experience in financial planning?
  2. Are you a fiduciary? (This means the planner is legally obligated to put your needs above their own.)
  3. How do you charge for your services? (Advisors can charge clients in a variety of ways. This can be fee-only, fee-based, or commission-based)
    1. Fee-only advisors are paid exclusively by clients, often by charging a fee to manage your assets or by charging a financial planning fee.  Fee-based advisors typically earn a fee based on the assets they manage, but may also can sell products for commission. Commissioned based advisors are paid by the product company for selling a product to you.
    1. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach.  Understanding the difference can help manage conflicts of interests and offer peace of mind with the partner you entrust with your life’s savings.
  4. Are there any conflicts of interests I should be aware of?
  5. Can you provide references from current or past clients?
  6. What is your investment philosophy and approach to risk?
  7. How do you stay up-to-date with changes in financial regulations and market trends?
  8. How often will we communicate and review my financial plan?
  9. Can you provide an example of how you’ve helped a client achieve their financial goals?

Evaluate Communication Skills:

During the interview, assess the advisor’s ability to explain complex financial concepts in a clear and understandable manner. Communication is crucial for a successful planner-client relationship.

Discuss Fees and Compensation:

Understand the advisor’s fee structure and how they are compensated. This transparency is important to ensure there are no conflicts of interest or conflicts are managed appropriately.

Assess Compatibility:

Pay attention to your personal rapport with the planner. A good relationship is vital for open communication and trust.

Review the Advisor’s Work Process:

Ask about the advisor’s process for creating and implementing a financial plan. This will give you insight into their approach and how they tailor their services to your specific needs.

Ask for a Sample Plan:

Request a sample financial plan to get a sense of the planner’s level of detail and the strategies they employ.

Check for Potential Conflicts of Interest:

Inquire about any affiliations the planner might have with financial product companies. You want to make sure their recommendations are unbiased and in your best interest.

Request a Written Agreement:

If you decide to work with a particular financial advisor, make sure you receive a written agreement that outlines the services they will provide, the fees, and any other relevant terms.

Remember, the goal of the interview is not only to gather information but also to establish a sense of trust and confidence in the advisor’s ability to help you achieve your financial goals. Take your time in deciding, as this is a significant partnership that can impact your financial future.


About the author: Alex Borgardts is a co-founder and financial planner at Next Bloom Wealth LLC. He serves clients in the Kansas City area with a focus on holistic and comprehensive financial planning.

This article is for educational purposes

product mockup

We’ve Prepared Your Free Guide

…Just Tell Us Where To Send It

You have Successfully Subscribed!