Competent financial advisors do not have a particular look about them, even if they claim to have proof of their ability. To protect yourself, it is important to ask the kind of questions that will indicate whether the potential advisor has the requisite level of skill to handle your financial affairs, or whether you should look elsewhere. The following simple questions will help you determine if the advisor under scrutiny can really help with your financial affairs.
The first enquiry you should make relates to education. Competence and quality with advisors comes in the form of a relevant tertiary education, professional memberships of financial advisory groups, and certificates or further qualifications that show ongoing professional development. It is also important to enquire about length of experience in the financial industry, and in particular how long the individual has been working as an advisor. This should be considered the first step in your financial advisor selection process.
The second avenue of enquiry relates to payment for services. This question is important as financial planners can bill hourly, work for retainer and some work on a commission basis. Each of these payment channels attract differing fee levels, and this information will influence your choice of financial advisor. It pays to know up front.
Another excellent gauge of success and ability is testimonials, and in particular referrals. If the financial planner you are considering cannot provide referrals you should be sceptical about any claims about past success they may make. The opinions of previous clients are excellent indicators of the ability of a financial planner.
Finally, ask for a plan. Any financial advisor worth their fee will happily outline the scope of their services, tell you what information you need to provide them, and work with you across all relevant areas to develop a plan for you to reach your financial goals.