Not everyone knows what to do with their money. People are faced with important financial decisions throughout their lives, ranging from whether to buy cars or houses to when to start saving for retirement. Financial advisers can help people understand these financial decisions and the ramifications of the decisions they make. Advisers can help people file their taxes, file the paperwork to start businesses, make investment decisions and more. People who build long-term business relationships with their financial advisers can look forward to steady, continued guidance during many of life's big moments. Word-of-mouth is a great way to find a financial expert, but asking the right questions can help you find a reputable, experienced adviser to help strengthen your finances.
What kinds of clients are you most experienced with?
Some financial planners have general expertise, while others specialize in specific areas of financial consulting, such as in retirement planning or investing. Depending on what you want from financial planning services, asking this question can help you find the advisor who can best help you reach your goals.
Could I see a sample financial plan?
Any financial advisor could probably talk your ears off with all kinds of terms that only confuse you, so getting them to show you a hands-on sample of a financial plan and having them explain it is probably a much easier way to make a decision. Plus, you get to find out just how good this person is at transparency and explaining things so that you can understand them.
Who do you recommend as my financial advisor?
Asking friends and family for a recommendation is a good place to start, but make sure whoever you ask is trustworthy as well! You don't want to ask your broke uncle who he'd recommend handle your money!
How often do you see your clients?
Some financial planners see their clients once a month, while others see clients just once a year. To avoid stress later on, ask financial planners how often they usually meet with their clients, and also whether they'll take unscheduled calls from clients who have financial questions. Also be sure to ask about whether clients are charged for more frequent contact, especially with phone calls.
How do you charge your clients?
Some advisors may charge initial fees for new clients, others will bill by the hour, and others may try to sell you several specific services. Be very upfront in finding out how you'd need to pay for your time. Do this with at least three different advisors so you can compare costs adequately.
What are your views on investing?
The economic turmoil of 2008 left many people concerned about the stock market. As such, financial advisors are likely to offer differing views on whether you should invest in the market. Ask potential financial planners about their views on investing, and whether someone in your position could benefit from playing the stock market. Whoever you hire as your financial advisor should make you feel comfortable with their investment views.
What credentials and licenses do you have?
There are four types of licenses: CFP (Certified FinancialPlanner), RIA (Registered Investment Advisor), ChFC (Chartered FinancialConsultant), and CPA (Certified Public Accountant).