When looking for a financial adviser, you want more than a list of questions; you also want a sense of what makes for good, or better, answers. In this post, Glenn Raffenach from The Wall Street Journal gives you some resources to help you through this process…
A common question involves asking about an adviser’s credentials or experience. But if you don’t know which credentials are more valuable than others, the question won’t help much. (By the way, some of the best credentials are certified financial planner, or CFP; chartered financial analyst, or CFA; and certified public accountant, or CPA.)
With that in mind, here are two of my favorite lists:
- Henry K. “Bud” Hebeler started and wrote the analyze Now website and contributed hundreds of articles about retirement finances to numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal. This generous and thoughtful man died last year, but much of his work is still available online. For our purposes, check out “25 Questions for a Potential Financial Adviser.”
As noted above, I like this list because Bud explained the thinking behind each question and why each is important. It’s a smart way of looking at this exercise (as Bud was wont to do).
- Jason Zweig, who writes The Intelligent Investor column in the Journal, devoted two pieces last year to finding a financial adviser. Both columns—“The 19 Questions to Ask Your Financial Adviser” and “The Special Trick to Find the Right Financial Adviser”—are available at jasonzweig.com.
Jason provides a list of questions, as well as thoughts about possible answers. Example: “How often do you trade?” A good answer, according to Jason, would be something along the lines of: “As seldom as possible, ideally once or twice a year at most.”
More questions worth considering can be found at the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards website, which features a Consumer Guide to Financial Planning) and at investor.gov, which offers a helpful brochure.
Be smart and ask questions. A good adviser will welcome the scrutiny and respect the level of inquiry that you use to make this important decision.
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