Eight Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

Written by:

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Katie Bruno, MIMFA,
Financial Advisor RJFS

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Michael Morey,
Financial Advisor RJFS

A quality financial planner has your best interests at heart.

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Part of our roles as financial advisors is to get our clients and prospects talking about their lives. We ask detailed questions to determine how we can help you with your needs, and ensure that we are monitoring and adjusting your financial plan as you go through the stages of life.

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Have you interviewed your financial advisor lately?

Whether you currently work with a financial advisor or are choosing a new advisor, it is equally important that you take the time to interview them to help ensure they have your best interests in mind. For some clients, it’s tough to know what questions to ask, so we’ve pulled together a list that will help you get to know how your advisor plans to work for you:

1. Are you a fiduciary?
The answer to this question should be yes, all the time. A fiduciary has a legal and ethical duty to act and make recommendations that are in your best interest (not their own). Fiduciary advisors provide ongoing financial monitoring and discussion throughout the relationship. Asking this question will help you choose an advisor who will put you and your needs at the center of every financial planning engagement.

2. How often will I hear from you?
In the beginning of your working relationship, it is common to meet and discuss planning with your financial advisor on a fairly frequent basis. Once your financial plan is established, you will want to make sure there are regular touchpoints. Most financial advisors will establish regular meetings or phone calls to make sure they keep up with the changes in your life. Your advisor may ask you how often you would like to be contacted, but you should also ask your advisor if they have an open-door policy and are willing to meet with you more frequently as your needs evolve.

3. How are you compensated?
There are many types of arrangements for how financial advisors can be paid. Advisors may charge by the hour for financial advice or bill on a percentage of assets under management. Other advisors may charge a combination of fees and commissions. A professional deserves to get paid for his or her time, but you should also understand and know what services you are paying for. The key here is to listen for an honest answer. We believe, an advisor saying you will not pay anything upfront or out of your pocket is an unacceptable answer that should raise some red flags.

4. What happens to my account if something happens to you?
When you hire a financial advisor, you are preparing a plan for how and what you would like to do with your savings. Just as you have prepared a plan for your future, your advisor should also have a proper plan in place to help ensure that your needs will continue to be met should something happen to them, and that you will continue receiving the same level of service.

5. How did you handle the downturn in 2008?
It can be difficult for a financial advisor to describe their performance history on the spot. The key here is to understand how the advisor makes decisions. Disciplined processes are involved to help build a portfolio designed to help you meet your financial goals. You may not want to work with an advisor that dodges the question or puts a positive spin on everything. Choosing to work with an advisor who can thoughtfully explain their choices will help you understand what, why and how your portfolio is designed to work for you, even in volatile times or at the bottom of a market cycle. The more you understand about your advisor’s long game and decision-making ability, the more you can be on the same page.

6. Will you work with my other financial professionals?
If an advisor offers comprehensive financial planning, it means they should be willing to work with the other professionals who manage your assets and obligations. Collaborating with your CPA, attorney or insurance agent, for example, is as important to your financial plan as any investment strategy. Collaborating with these types of professionals also provides valuable input.

7. What financial planning services do you offer?
In addition to investment advice and portfolio management, your advisor may offer services such as retirement, tax, estate or education planning, insurance services and risk management. A financial planning office that promotes comprehensive or holistic wealth management should offer all of these services. You should ask whether these services are included, or if there are additional fees associated.

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8. Have you ever received any formal complaints for unlawful or unethical actions?
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Securities and Exchange Commission, CFP Board and your state insurance and securities departments each maintain records on the disciplinary history of financial advisors. Ask which organizations the planner is regulated by, and contact these groups to conduct a background check.

When it comes to investing and managing your money, there is no one more important than YOU.

The bottom line is to do your homework prior to trusting someone to help you manage your money. The relationship you will have with your financial advisor is long term and ongoing. The time and research you invest to connect with the right person will be well worth it. The way your financial plan is set up and managed impacts you more than anyone, so it’s important for you to be engaged. The importance of having an advisor who makes you comfortable, fits your needs, understands you, and that you feel confident in, cannot be overstated.

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The financial planners at the Morey & Quinn Wealth Partners office are your partners on the path to reaching your goals. Whether you are near retirement, just getting started, or have lots of questions, we can help. Get in touch with us today, and let us show you the value in a well planned life.

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Any opinions are those of Katie Bruno and Michael Morey, and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected.