There is a lot at stake when you decide to hire a financial planner. Not only do you have to pay the costs of their service, but you are also entrusting them with making decisions about your finances. Here some very important questions that you should ask a financial planner before you decide to hire them.
1. What percentage of your income comes from fees paid directly by clients for your time versus commissions from the products that you sell?
Asking this question first will save you tons of time when trying to hire a financial planner. If the person doesn’t say that 100% of their income comes from clients paying for their time, then this person is a salesperson. If for some reason you don’t get a straight answer from the person you can always contact the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to provide you with a Form ADV on the financial planner. This form will provide you with a breakdown of where the person’s income comes from and their affiliations with other companies. It also provides you with the person’s education and employment history along with the firm’s fee schedule.
2. What is your hourly fee?
Rates with financial planners will vary greatly. Just because a person is expensive, it doesn’t make them the best planner though. If you shop around you may be able to find a great financial planner who is less expensive and can give you good turnaround times. Since they charge less, they are more likely to work faster and smarter to make more money for the business.
3. What work and educational experience do you have that qualifies you to be a financial planner?
Ideally, a planner should have experience in the business or financial services field. Don’t place too much value on the Certified Financial Planning (CFP) degree, as a person can take an at home study course to get this degree and most who have it are the ones that sell products. A good financial planner should have a decent amount of education in finances, but more importantly should be good with numbers, speak in plain English and have good communication skills.
4. Do you carry liability insurance?
You should insist on a financial planner that carries protection in case a major mistake is made in which he is liable. Liability insurance should be carried at an amount that is enough to cover the amount of money he will be helping you with. If a financial planner doesn’t have liability insurance or takes offense at the question, then you will not want to hire this person as they are not taking good measurements with their business, so why would they do it with your money.
5. How is implementation handled?
Some financial planners may charge you by the hour but only provide you with generic advice without any real specifics on what you can do yourself. If you are the type of person that is okay with the planner helping in the implementation of the changes, then that may be good for you. But if you are just looking for specific advice and can follow through on your own without the planner you may want to look elsewhere for advice. This is one question that really depends on what you are looking for from your financial planner.
If at any time during asking these questions to the person you feel uncomfortable or don’t trust the person, then don’t take the chance and hire them.