Financial Professional Questions

Financial Professional Questions — How to interview a financial professional


Financial Professional Questions — How to interview a financial professional

You’ve done some research and gathered a few names of recommended financial professionals. Now it’s time to sit down and get to know them. You need to approach this like an employer or a doctor. You’re looking for someone who is not only qualified but someone you can trust. Here are a few questions to ask.



  • What is your professional history? Experience counts because you want someone who has been through market ups and downs. Look for someone who has dealt with growth economies and recessions and knows how to navigate both.
  • What certifications do you have? There are many different qualifications and licenses a financial professional can attain. To view a list of some of the most common professional designations, please visit

If the financial professional has all the right qualifications, can provide the services you need and shares your life values, then you should feel more comfortable and confident working as a team.

  • What services do you offer? Can you sell any investment type? What about insurance products? Do you develop holistic financial plans or just advise on investment portfolios? Do you specialize in retirement planning?
  • How do you get paid? Advisors who charge by the hour or as a percentage of total assets are considered “fee only.” Others get paid commissions on products they recommend and may also charge a fee. That’s called “fee-based” with commission. Some advisors may only be paid a commission on sales.
  • If qualified to conduct financial planning, what is your approach? I Does the financial professional take a holistic approach that includes an evaluation of your retirement needs, taxes, estate planning, college funding, and other investments? Get a sense of his or her personality. Think twice about anyone who seems willing to bend the rules.
  • Can you provide references? Speak with past and current clients whose financial situations and goals are similar to yours. Ask them how often they consult with the advisor, how responsive is the professional to questions, and if they are happy with the service they receive.
  • If you are considering hiring a financial planner, does the planner have a written client-planner agreement? This agreement will clearly explain or document the services to be provided. The planner should outline how they get paid and by whom. You and the planner should agree on how long the relationship should last and how decisions are going to be made. Many financial professionals will use this form as an agreement to do business.
  • How often will we talk? Will the advisor make regular status phone calls or is it up to you to call for updates? How often will you get together in person?
  • What’s the average tenure of your clients? As with any professional, having many longstanding clients may indicate a high level of satisfaction with the services provided.

Get personal and professional

Perhaps the most important factor when making this decision is assessing your personal relationship with the financial professional. If she has all the right qualifications, can provide the services you need and shares your life values, then you should feel more comfortable and confident working as a team.