What kind of educational background and professional credentials do you have?
While the prospect of working with a nationally branded firm may be comforting, many national firms employ a large number of individuals who have recently graduated from college and don’t yet have a lot of experience. More experienced advisors are frequently to be found at smaller, boutique firms. Keep in mind that you’ll be working with an individual and not just a company. It therefore pays to ask about the background, experience, and training of the advisor that you’ll actually be working with.
Here are several questions you can ask of the advisor you may be working with:
- 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?
You may want to think twice about engaging an individual who says that s/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 will enjoy a productive relationship with the advisor you choose. Consider the following:
- Will this person listen to me and try to understand my perspective?
- Can this person appreciate experiences other than his/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?