How to Hire a Financial Planner

Thinking of using a financial planner?

Here are 10 questions to ask before you sign up:

What experience do you have? Find out how long the adviser has been in practice and the companies he or she has been associated with. Choose an adviser with a minimum of 3 years experience.

What are your qualifications? The term "financial planner" is used by a lot of people. Ask the planner what qualifies him/her to offer financial advice. Consider whether the planner received a designation or recognition from a professional organization.

What services do you offer? Some planners offer advice on a lot of topics: like stocks and insurance. Some don’t sell anything; others receive a commission on whatever they sell you.

What is your approach to financial planning? Ask about the type of clients and financial situations the planner deals with. Some planners look at the entire picture, other focus on trouble areas. Be sure the planner meets your style, whether aggressive or conservative.

Will you be the only person working with me? Watch for the bait and switch. Find out if the planner is going to do the work himself, or handoff to a junior assistant.

How will I pay for your services? Planners are paid in different ways. Know how your planner makes a living since it could influence the advice given. Fee only planners don’t receive commissions and most base their services on an hourly rate. The majority of planners receive commissions on what they sell.

How much do you typically charge? You wouldn’t let a mechanic work on your car without an estimate; why let a financial planner? An estimate should include a breakdown on the fees and commissions you will be charged and how they will be charged.

Could anyone besides me benefit from your recommendations? Ask for a written disclosure of any conflicts of interest the planner may have. A planner who sells insurance gets a commission. You’ll want to know that before he recommends a policy for you.

Have you ever been disciplined by a governmental or regulatory agency? If you don’t get a copy of the planner's ADV registration, call us. (907) 465-2521.

Can I have it in writing? You’re entitled to a written agreement covering all of this. Get it or leave.


Want more information on financial planners? For instance:

  • Learn what financial planning is about from experts
  • Learn the value of having a Certified Financial Planner on your side
  • Verify that someone is a Certified Financial Planner practitioner
  • Request a resource kit or referral services

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards website