Women often like to conduct due diligence before entrusting professionals with their most important decisions. Therefore, it is only fitting that we should also take a thorough approach in identifying and selecting a financial planner to become a member of their inner circle, helping them set, work toward and reach their financial goals.
CFP Board provides a list of 10 questions you should ask before hiring a financial planner, including basic questions about qualifications, services provided and how much you will pay. Finding an advisor who holds CFP® certification is a way to ensure you are working with a professional who has made a commitment to CFP Board, as part of their certification, to “act as a fiduciary at all times” when providing financial advice to a client.
In addition to those questions outlined by the CFP Board, below are 10 additional areas a woman may want to explore before hiring someone to be her financial planner. You can ask these questions at your first meeting or send them in advance, so the planner is ready to address them when you meet. You might also find some of this information on the advisor’s website.
- Privacy: Ask how they handle your privacy issues and what resources are employed to foster excellent cyber security. Also, you should ask how they protect your privacy regarding the many personal documents you will be providing to your planner and team, and how those documents are stored.
- Bring a Friend: Many women, especially those of us who may feel we are not financially savvy, really appreciate another set of eyes and ears in meetings. Find out if you can include a trusted family member, colleague or friend in the initial meeting so that you ask all the right questions and stay focused and on track.
- Service Model: You want to hire an advisor who provides a planning experience that is uniquely designed to address your personal needs, goals and objectives. You want that planner to have an organized approach so that you are well cared for not only initially but months and years down the road. Asking them to outline their definition of good customer service is a good starting point.
- Sample Plans: Ask to see a sample of a financial plan they have done. It’s one thing to talk about how they will help you, it’s another to actually see what you should expect.
- Educate, Don’t Dictate: Ask if the advisor will take the time to explain things and answer questions. Ensure that they consider you more as a financial planning partner than just a recipient.
- Collaborating: Suggestions and ideas will be discussed that may need to involve others (such as an estate planner, an insurance agent and tax pro). Ask your advisor how they are going to create a collaborative planning environment, or if you don’t have a team of advisors—how to get one.
- Relatability: Ask your financial advisor if they have experience working with people who have similar backgrounds, family structure or circumstances like yours.
- Communication Cadence: In what way, and how often, will you hear from your financial advisor? What is the expected response time if you have a question or issue?
- Portfolio Management Details: Ask details about how your portfolio would be managed. Who handles your actual investment holdings? How is risk tolerance determined? Are your assets integrated into the financial plan? Do you have any input about the types of holdings being purchased on your behalf? How is allocation and performance tracked?
- Technology: No matter your age and comfort level with tech, you will need to be able to navigate the basics. Find a planner and firm who has dedicated staff to assisting you in accessing and using their tech tools and request a demo upfront.
These ten areas are just a starting point. Be bold, ask as many and as pointed questions as you can before moving forward. Once you establish your planner relationship, stay involved and remember—it’s your ship and your life. You should surround yourself with the most amazing crew possible, but you are ultimately the only captain.
Whether you have been referred to a financial planner by a friend or family member or have found one using the Find a CFP® Professional tool, be sure to interview the planners you are considering to find the one who is the best fit for you.