Top Questions To Ask A Financial Planner

KNOWLEDGEABLE FINANCIAL PLANNING CAN mean the difference between restless nights and peaceful slumber. Working with the right financial planner is a critical step in setting realistic goals and working toward achieving them. Not all financial planners are created equally, so it is important to interview several potential candidates in order to ensure the best fit. By asking a few critical questions, you can determine the best financial planner for your individual needs, and look forward to a lifetime of financial peace of mind.

Experience Matters

Every financial planner has a different skill set based on training and experience
. A helpful first question in the search process asks, “Can you tell me about your experience and qualifications?” By asking questions about everything from academic background to recent employment history, you can gain an informed picture of a candidate’s overall preparedness.

While a minimum of three years experience working in the field is required in order to become a Certified Financial Planner, it is critical that financial planners stay apprised of the latest developments. This is a field that is always changing so continuing education is a necessary part of keeping up. A quick visit to the CPF Board of Standards database lets you check the qualifications of candidates with financial planning certifications.

While it can be uncomfortable, this is also an opportunity to find out about any skeletons in the closet. A number of professional and governmental regulatory groups, including FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and the CFP Board, keep track of disciplinary actions taken against financial planners. By contacting the proper organization for a background check, you can determine any past negligence on the part of prospective candidates.

Match Game

Financial planners offer a broad range of services. Many offer comprehensive counseling, including investments, savings, taxes, retirement and estate planning, while others may qualify in title while offering limited expertise. Although a potential candidate may be qualified with proper certifications, his/her expertise may not be in the optimal way for your particular circumstances.

Questions to ask include how a candidate’s experience pertains to your needs, and what kind of products or services he can recommend. Additionally, by inquiring about what types of clients a candidate typically works with, you can determine if he has sufficient experience in working with clients in similar financial situations to your own. Keep in mind that some financial planners will require you to have sufficient assets before qualifying for their services.

In addition to meeting your financial needs, the right financial planner will also share your comfort level with risk regarding the investment approach. Just like Goldilocks and her porridge, some financial planners will offer advice that is too aggressive, while others will offer advice that is too conservative. By asking about each candidate’s approach, you can find the financial planner who is just right.

Money Talks so Talk Money

Financial planners work according to a number of different compensation systems, and can be paid in a few different ways. These include by commission, in which the financial planner receives a third party-brokered percentage of the investment amount; fee-only, in which the financial planner is compensated only through fixed, hourly or performance-based fees; and commission and fee, in which the planner is compensated by a combination of the two.

You should also find out an estimate of potential costs in order to save yourself from opening a shocking bill. And regardless of which financial planner you choose, request a written agreement regarding services and fees; in doing so, you can safeguard yourself against the unexpected. Exercising due diligence is critical when it comes to hiring a financial planner; you can’t be too careful, as this person will be entrusted with access to your finances.

Lastly, keep in mind that the realization of your goals and dreams will rest at least in part in this person’s hands, so it pays to be proactive, assertive and thorough when making your choice. Your financial future depends on it.


1. A better financial planner means more money in your wallet.

2. You shouldn’t trust any financial planner without first running a background check.

About the Author:

Joanna Hughes is a freelance writer who enjoys family time and writing content for