How do you choose a Financial Planner?
Here are some tough questions to ask:
- What is your educational background?
- What are your financial planning credentials/designations and affiliations?
- How long have you been offering financial planning services?
- Do you have clients who might be willing to speak with me about your services?
- Will you provide me with references from other professionals?
- Have you ever been cited by a professional or regulatory governing body for disciplinary reasons?
- Describe your financial planning work experience or provide your resume.
- How many clients do you work with?
- Are you currently engaged in any other business, either as a sole proprietor, partner, officer, employee, trustee, agent or otherwise? (Exclude non-investment related activities which are exclusively charitable, civic, religious or fraternal and are recognized as tax-exempt.)
- Will you or an associate of yours work with me?
- If an associate will be my primary contact, please provide the Background & Experience information for each associate as well.
- Will you sign the Fiduciary Oath?
The advisor shall exercise his/her best efforts to act in good faith and in the best interest of the client. The advisor shall provide written disclosure to the client prior to the engagement of the advisor, and thereafter throughout the term of the engagement, of any conflicts of interest which will or reasonably may compromise the impartiality or independence of the advisor.The advisor, or any party in which the advisor has a financial interest, does not receive any compensation or other remuneration that is contingent on any client’s purchase or sale of a party based on the referral of a client or the client’s business.
- Do you have a business continuity plan?
Financial planning costs include what a client pays in fees and commissions. Comparison between advisors requires full information about potential total costs. It is important to have this information before entering into any agreement.
- How is your firm compensated and how is your compensation calculated?
- Do you have an agreement describing your compensation and services that will be provided in advance of the engagement?
- Do you have a minimum fee?
- If you earn commissions, approximately what percentage of your firm’s commission income comes from:
_____ Insurance Products
_____ Mutual Funds
_____ Limited Partnerships
_____ Stocks and Bonds
_____ Coins, tangibles, collectibles
- Does any member of your firm act as a general partner, participate in, or receive compensation from investments you may recommend to me?
- Do you receive referral fees from attorneys, accountants, insurance professionals, mortgage brokers, or others?
- Do you receive on-going income from any of the mutual funds that you recommend in the form of “12(b)1” fees, “trailing” commissions, or other continuing payouts?
- Are there financial incentives for you to recommend certain financial products?
Financial Planners provide a range of services. It is important to match client needs with services provided.
- Do you offer advice on:
_____ Goal Setting
_____ Cash Management & Budgeting
_____ Tax Planning
_____ Investment Review & Planning
_____ Estate Planning
_____ Insurance needs in the area of life, disability, long-term care, health and property/casualty
_____ Education Funding
_____ Retirement Planning
- Do you provide a comprehensive written analysis of my financial situation and recommendations?
- Does your financial planning service include recommendations for specific investments or investment products?
- Do you offer assistance with implementation with the plan?
- Do you offer continuous, on-going advice regarding my financial affairs, including advice on non-investment related financial issues?
- Do you take custody of, or have access to my assets?
- If you were to provide me on-going investment advisory services, do you require “discretionary” trading authority over my investment accounts?
Federal and state laws require that, under most circumstances, individuals or firms holding themselves out to the public as providing investment advisory services are required to be registered with either the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) or the regulatory agency of the state in which the individual/firm conducts business.
Are you (or your firm) registered as an Investment Advisor
_____ With the SEC
_____ With the state of _________________________
Please provide your Form ADV Part II or brochure used in compliance with the Investment Advisors Act of 1940.
If not registered with either the SEC or any state, please indicate the allowable reason for non-registration.
This form was created by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) to assist consumers in selecting a personal financial planner. It can be used as a checklist during an interview or sent to prospective planners as part of a preliminary screening. NAPFA recommends that individuals from at least two different firms be interviewed.