Vetting Your Financial Advisor – The Top 10 Questions to Ask in the First Meeting

Everybody’s financial situation and financial goals are as unique as they are. One person’s dreams of what they hope to achieve in their lives are very different from the next person’s. Their attitudes towards money may depend on how much they grew up with, how much they have today, and what they expect they’ll need to see them through their future.

While we all share the inescapable challenge of funding our future, we approach the matter of our money management in different ways. Some of us take to it and soar. Some of us take some time to learn the ropes, and others don’t know how to go about it, and would rather avoid it.

What does this mean to you?

It’s safe to say that no matter the money journey you’re on, there will be challenges on the road ahead that must be met. For you to meet these challenges you’ll be wise to turn your financial dreams into a comprehensive plan.

Is there a best way to go about this?

We believe the best thing you can do to pursue a healthy, wealthy, and prosperous money journey is to have a professional financial advisor in the navigator’s seat next to you.

Your financial advisor (at WestStar we call ourselves Financial Consultants) will conduct a comprehensive analysis of your financial situation, needs, and goals. They will assist you by structuring a portfolio of investment and risk solutions that matches your income and life stage and minimizes taxes. You’ll get valuable guidance when critical financial decisions must be made, and you’ll be dissuaded from poor choices that have costly consequences.

Your financial advisor will know the most trusted paths to follow; and with their help and experience, you can face the future with clarity, confidence, and a far greater degree of certainty.

Trust is the most important aspect of the client-advisor relationship, and it is built on several advisor character traits, including integrity, honesty, competence, and commitment to acting in your very best interests. Trust builds and sustains your relationship, and building this relationship over time makes sense, given that your financial advisor will need to have the knowledge and understanding of your situation over the years ahead.

It stands to reason that since you’re unique, you may expect the same of each financial advisor. Even though advisors come in all shapes and sizes and have different personalities, skills, and experience, finding the right one for you is certainly not as difficult as you may expect. You simply need to ask the right questions.

How To Find The Right Financial Advisor

Before getting financial advice, decide what you want to get out of it. This will depend on your life stage, how much money you have, how much you earn, and what you’re trying to achieve.

Once you know what you need, find an advisor who offers the right services for you. Financial advisors’ services and areas of competence vary. Whilst some advisors provide an array of services, others may specialize in one or two aspects of your financial life.

It is always worthwhile chatting to your friends, family, and peers about their financial advisors, and the impact they’ve made on their lives. Alternatively, you can look for financial advisors online, and read about them before deciding to set up a meeting.

We have a few suggestions on what to ask any potential financial advisors – both when screening for a match and when it comes to portfolio specifics.

And if you want a much broader list of questions to address with more detailed explanations, download our easy-to-read EBook.

Screening Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

To find the right advisor for your financial portfolio, you have to make careful screening a must – the right fit is out there, so let’s look at how to go about it.

When you meet an advisor, you get to ask them whatever you wish, but some questions are useful to start with, like: “What are your qualifications, value propositions, and what kind of clients do you work with?”

Are You a Fiduciary?

Most financial advisors are bound by fiduciary duty and are therefore legally required to work in your best interest. Working with a fiduciary means you may be certain that their ethics are of a high standard and that they are bound to uphold them.

What Financial Services Do You Provide?

Good financial advisors will be able to craft their services to your needs. Many will be skilled in the planning foundations that support your journey to wealth, like investment, insurance, retirement, and legacy planning.

You need to make sure that they are skilled in your particular areas of need, and can help you craft the means to getting it all in perspective, and on the right track.

What is Your Investment Philosophy?

We all tend to trust people and causes that share our values, so you must make sure your financial advisor shares your money values. If you’re a cautious realist who values certainty over risk, it is unlikely that you’ll work well with a super-confident go-getter.

Remember, it is important to establish the advisor’s approach to financial planning and investments, the financial planning services they offer, what fees they charge, and what you get in return.

Working in alignment from day 1 builds a stronger bond between you and the person advising on your life’s finances.

Portfolio Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor

To begin with, you want to get a good idea as to how they go about managing your finances. You’ll want to establish how they select the products and solutions they recommend you, and what commissions they receive. Do they put time into educating and coaching you about money? How will they consult you on decisions?

How Often Will You Give Me Reports and Feedback on My Investments?

When it comes to your money, transparency is key, and so you’ll want to understand how they will monitor and manage your investments, what information you receive and how this is presented to you, how often you’ll meet and how often they will review your accounts.

I Need Numbers – What Are Your Measures of Success?

Measures and measurements of success are important, and these go to the tailoring of your expectations and risk tolerance. What you’re looking for ultimately is an advisor who ‘gets you’ and understands your money mindset and your priorities. Somebody who can create a portfolio that matches your ambitions and talks to your priorities.

To find out more about WestStar’s suite of financial planning and advisory solutions, click here.

Where Will You Keep My Money?

Another important question has to do with where your money goes. Advisors often partner with third-party money houses with which they store your funds: and finding out about the partners they choose to give your money to (and why) is a worthwhile exercise. Competent partners will have rules of access and will do a lot to oversee how your money is handled.

Remember, it’s always important for you to understand what your advisor recommends and why. That’s because it’s your money, and you should understand how it’s being deployed.

How Do I Pay You?

Lastly, you must keep a close eye on the fees you’ll be paying – both to your advisor and for any funds bought for you. Ask about their fees or payment structure.

Most advisors can tailor their fees to your requirements – it’s part of the customizable nature of the financial plan. So, settle on a fee you’ll be happy with, or agree to a commission.

For more on the value of financial planning, give this article a read.

Finding the right financial advisor is integral to forming a relationship that will benefit both of you. Most advisors are in it for the long haul and recognize the value of helping you build and grow your portfolio. As fiduciaries, they buy into the value of putting your best interests above theirs.

Here’s how WestStar Financial Consultant, Spencer Hill sees his role.

“My clients are concerned with doing all they can to protect and provide for their families. Most are worried about taxes eating away at their portfolio, and are looking to learn more about optimizing their finances, and to ensure they‘re doing everything possible to maximize their compensation benefits, lower their taxes, and grow their wealth.” – Spencer Hill MBA, Financial Consultant

WestStar’s Financial Consultants offer personalized advisory services and are committed to putting your interests first for a more secure financial future. Our Advisory & Solutions Suites bring our skilled team’s advice, prosperity-based planning, and key milestones together on your personalized roadmap.

To make sure you’re equipped with the knowledge and advice to pursue your financial plan with confidence, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to talk with you about your goals and dreams.

Click here to contact us.

WestStar Prosperity Partners

For a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks LLC nor any of its representatives may give legal or tax advice.

Securities and advisory services are offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC, a broker-dealer and registered investment adviser. Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity.