Three Questions To Ask Yourself Before Hiring ‘The’ Financial Advisor

Three Questions To Ask Yourself Before Hiring ‘The’ Financial Advisor

In the end, only you will know whether you’ve found that right fit for a financial advisor.

There are a few people who will learn a lot about you through the course of your life: your spouse, your doctor, your lawyer, and your financial advisor.

I can’t tell you how to find the right fit when you’re looking for a doctor or a lawyer. And when it comes to your spouse, the only advice I can give is to pray that you’re as blessed as I’ve been, and you find someone who has an abundance of patience and forgiveness—if you’re like me, you’ll probably need it!

But having worked for three decades in the financial business, I can give you some thoughts on finding the right fit when it comes to selecting a financial advisor.

Before you start working with an advisor, here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. Do you have confidence in their competence?

Selecting a financial advisor with the appropriate credentials and education is important. The CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) designation indicates a planner has passed a rigorous exam and has the baseline amount of experience and education required to meet a higher standard. A CFP® is also required to abide by a strict code of ethics and provide a fiduciary relationship.

However, competence isn’t just measured by degrees and certifications. If that were the case, Congress would have a higher approval rating.

Competence as a financial planner is about delivering results for clients, year after year. If your financial advisor has managed to stay in business through multiple financial downturns, it’s a good sign they must be doing something right. It’s easy to hop into a booming market, but there is value to working with a financial advisor who has gained wisdom (and a few scars) from being in the business during good times and bad.

Experience and competence aren’t always the same thing, but the free market usually makes short work of an incompetent financial advisor.

2. Do you relate to your advisor?

Competence isn’t the sole requirement. It’s a foundational starting point.

Once you’ve established competence, you need to ask yourself how well you relate to your potential advisor.

Does your financial advisor share your set of values? Do you share a similar worldview? Have they walked in your shoes? Do they specialize in what’s important to you? Do you respect their level of life experience? Do you communicate well with one another? Did you and your spouse walk away from your first meeting both feeling good?

The quality I call “relatedness” can have some objective qualities. If you’re a Christian business owner and your financial advisor works with Christian business owners, the likelihood that you’ve found a good fit is higher.

However, there is still a subjective aspect to relatedness. That subjective quality often comes down to your gut feeling.

If your gut tells you you’ve found the right fit, there is a good chance that you really have found the right fit.

3. Does the structure of their firm fit your needs?

Do you want a team of professionals serving you, or a sole practitioner? Do you want to work with a large advisory firm, or a boutique firm? Do you need an advisor that specializes in one area of financial advice, or do you need integrated, long-term planning?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer to those questions. An integrated team typically features a broader range of expertise, and working with a team means you aren’t limited to the skills and availability of a single person. However, some people simply prefer the dynamic of working with a sole practitioner. It depends on which structure works best for you and your needs.

Single approach advisors, like insurance, mutual funds and trusts, have strong expertise in their area, whereas wealth managers provide a coordinated approach to investment consulting, retirement planning, wealth protection and charitable giving.

Big firms have some strengths, but (and I’m biased) smaller firms deliver more accessibility, responsiveness, and often better client service.

(Like I said, I am biased—and incredibly proud of our team here at Trinity)

In the end, whether you’ve found the right fit for a financial advisor is something only you can answer.

However, if you’re confident that your advisor is competent, your gut tells you that you and your financial advisor are a good fit, and their structure fit your needs, you’re off to a great start.

James Matush, Jr., CFP®, MBA

James Matush, Jr., CFP®, MBA

James "Jim" Matush, CFP®, MBA, is the CEO and Founding Partner of Trinity Wealth Advisors, a leading wealth advisory firm serving affluent families in the St. Louis area. With 40+ years of experience in financial services, he offers his clients actionable plans to help them achieve their goals.