What kind of educational background and professional credentials do you have?
While working with a nationally branded firm might sound comforting, many national firms employ a large number of recent graduates who don’t have a lot of experience. It’s in smaller, boutique firms that advisors with more experience are frequently found. Keep in mind that you’ll be working with an individual and not just a company, so it makes sense to ask about the background, experience, and training of the advisor that you’d actually be working with.
Here are several questions you can ask of the advisor:
- Do you have a college degree? What did you study?
- Do you have a graduate degree in economics, business or finance?
- What kind of professional credentials do you have? Are you a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) professional?
- How much (and what kind of) general business experience do you have?
- How much experience do you have as a Financial Advisor?
Think twice about engaging an individual who says that she or he is a “retirement specialist” if that person doesn’t have a relevant degree or any professional qualifications. Too often such people are simply sales pros masquerading as advisors.
In addition to “hard” skills and experience, however, there is also a more personal side to things. An advisor’s personal attitudes and approach can make all the difference in whether or not you’d enjoy a productive relationship. Consider the following:
- Will this person listen to me and try to understand my perspective?
- Can this person appreciate experiences other than his or her own?
- Has this advisor had experience working with people like me?
- Does this person have personal life experience that will be helpful to me?
- Do I trust this individual to be respectful, honest, and fair?