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READY: Top 10 Questions to ask your Financial Advisor

Top 10 Questions To Ask A Potential Financial Advisor

A relationship with a good financial adviser is probably one of the most important professional relationships you can have. Make sure you take the time to ask key questions. Although there are a myriad of questions you should ask, here are Top 10 questions I think are important.

1/ How Long Have You Been Practicing As A Financial Advisor?
The right answer is a minimum of five and more years are better. You’re talking about your life savings. A potential advisor may have years of experience as an accountant, or in the mortgage or banking industry, but that doesn’t mean they have expertise as a financial advisor.

2/ What experience do you have?
Find out how long the financial advisor has been in practice and the number and types of companies with which she has been associated. If you are receiving investment advice, it is advisable to work with someone who has been an advisor through at least one recession or down stock market.

3/ What are your credentials?
Investment advisers and financial planners may come from many different educational and professional backgrounds. Before you hire a financial professional, be sure to ask about their background. If they have a credential, ask them what it means and what they had to do to earn it.

4/ How Are You Compensated?
Before you hire any financial professional—whether it's a stockbroker, a financial planner, or an investment adviser—you should always find out and make sure you understand how that person gets paid. Investment advisers generally are paid in any of the following ways: A percentage of the value of the assets they manage for you; an hourly fee for the time they spend working for you; a fixed fee; a commission on the securities they sell; or some combination of the above.

5/ What kind of research do you do?
The best money managers in the world are the best because they have a disciplined research process and can articulate their process succinctly and easily. Ask your adviser about their process, discipline and beliefs.

6/ What is your service strategy? How often do you communicate with clients?
Studies show the two most common reasons people change financial advisers is because of lack of performance or lack of service. You should know what advisers do to service their clients and how often they contact their clients.

7/ How many clients do you have?
Many great advisers may be excellent at what they do, but they have a capacity problem -- too many clients to service.

8/ Are you independent of financial product sponsors?
Product sponsors include stock brokerage firms (discount and full service), insurance companies and banks. Some planners prefer to develop one plan by bringing together all of your financial goals. Others provide advice on specific areas, as needed.

9/ Will you be the only person working with me?
If the investment advisor works with professionals outside his own practice, such as attorneys, insurance agents or tax specialists to develop or carry out financial planning recommendations, get a list of their names to check on their backgrounds.

10/ Have you ever been disciplined by any government regulator for unethical or improper conduct or been sued by a client who was not happy with the work you did?
If you are looking to find a financial advisor, enhance the relationship with your current advisor or seek advice on a particular financial goal, I recommend visit Fidelity Investment website: “Getting Good Advice” at www.gga.ca. Their interactive guides can help you discover many benefits of working with a financial advisor, to build and maintain a positive and productive relationship.

Pavol Hollosy, Investment Advisor

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