The Top 7 Questions You Need to Ask Your Financial Planner Before Signing on With Them

By Sara


Last Updated: December 5, 2022


If one of your financial goals for next year is to start investing or planning for your financial future, you may have also thought about using a financial planner.

A financial planner can help you allocate your finances to fit your needs, whether investing in growing your money or making a long-term financial plan.

However, before you start using a financial planner, you need to research to ensure you’re getting a planner that will help you with your needs and have the qualifications you want them to have, along with knowing any fees.

These are seven questions to ask a financial planner before you sign on with them to ensure they will be a good match for you. 



Question 1 - What help do you need? What services do they provide?

One of the first questions you need to ask is what you want out of a financial planner.

You need to know your personal needs to know if the services a financial planner offers are right for you. You may want a financial advisor just for basic financial needs; then you may also need advice on Social Security and a 401(k).

A financial planner can help with:

  • retirements
  • estates
  • taxes
  • insurance and other financial considerations in your life

Know what services they offer. You may only need help with retirement but, in the future, want to expand on estates and taxes, so it may be ideal to find a tax planner who can also help with future needs. 


Question 2 - Are they a fiduciary? 

A financial planner who is a fiduciary will act in your best interests when providing you with financial advice.

A Non-fiduciary financial planner, like a broker, may not always act in your best interest. They will make recommendations that are “suitable,” which means that they could recommend something that is a higher cost or not ideal for you.

Always find a financial planner who is a fiduciary because they will have your best interest in mind. Then, you can feel confident that the advice they provide is what is best for the goals that you have identified. 


Question 3 - What are their fees, and how do they get paid? 

Always find out any fees and how finances will be paid before signing on with them to avoid any costs that you were not expecting.

There will always be some type of cost for a financial planner, but the costs can vary. Ask if this planner is a fee-only planner. Usually, a fee will be a percent of the assets that they manage (1% is a normal percentage), a flat fee for their services, or an hourly fee.

Avoid financial planners who make money on commission, because this can lead to a conflict of interest. They may recommend something that earns them a commission and isn’t the best for you. 


Question 4 - What are their qualifications and experience? 

Ask the financial planner you are interested in using about their qualifications.

There are many different types of qualifications financial planners can have. Ask theirs and then research which qualifications matter the most to you and which don’t. You may not need someone with every qualification, but you also may realize that you want someone with as many qualifications as they can.

Also, find out how much experience they have. There is nothing wrong with younger professionals, but they may be learning as they go. A more experienced financial planner will have years of experience, but it could also be more costly. 


Question 5 - What is their investment philosophy? 

Ask your financial planner about their investment philosophy.

This can tell you a lot about how they will handle your assets and if they have similar values as you do. You want to choose a planner who has a philosophy similar to yours.

It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, but it should align closely.

Along with their investment philosophy is their investment style. If you like aggressive and risk-taking investment styles, but your planner is more conservative and likes to play it safe, you may not be happy with their style. 


Question 6 - How will they work with you? 

Understand what your professional relationship will be like with this financial planner.

If you want to have access to your financial planner at all times, you need to make sure that this financial planner allows you to contact them whenever you need them. Planners will have different availability from calls, emails, or scheduled appointments.

Make sure that the working relationship that they offer is what you want. Do you want to be more hands-on in your assets, or do you want someone who will make the decisions for you? 


Question 7 - How do they track investment performance? 

Ask a financial advisor how they track investment performance, especially what they consider a successful portfolio to look like.

They should be able to tell you their ideas about a well-performing portfolio, which should include diversifying your portfolio. They should be able to discuss short-term and long-term strategies that align with the overall goals of your portfolio. 



Choosing a Financial Planner

Having outside help from a financial planner to help you make the best financial decisions around your portfolio can be a great step to make.

However, not doing your research could cost you in the long run. Always ask these seven questions before signing on with a financial planner to make sure they align with what you are looking for. Then, make sure to follow up with any questions you have based on their answers as well.

Finding a planner who knows what your goals are and who you trust is invaluable. 

Photo by Kindel Media


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