How to 'interview' potential financial advisers

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Choosing the right - or wrong - financial adviser could have a major impact on your financial success. The questions you ask of potential or current advisers and how you ask them should be carefully planned out before you sit down.

To start the process, first ask yourself: "What kind of advice am I looking for from my adviser?"

Are you looking for a holistic adviser to cover multiple areas of financial planning, from cash flow analysis to estate planning, or are you just looking for an asset manager to help you make proper investment choices? Something in between?

Your answers will dictate what type of questions you will need to ask.

Think of this process as a job interview. You are the CEO of your life. Your life has goals to be met and financial challenges to be overcome.

You are interviewing candidates to hire as your CFO. You must make sure he or she has both the professional qualifications to help you accomplish your goals plus the personal philosophies to make him or her a good fit for your "company."

Here are some questions to consider for both the professional and philosophical side of the equation.

Professional: What licenses and certifications do you hold? Are you a solo practitioner or part of a team? If a team, what licenses and certifications does your team hold? Are you a fiduciary? What specific services do you provide and how do you get paid for those services?

Do you specialize in certain types of clients? What does your ideal client look like? Will you handle my investments or delegate the responsibility to another person? What criteria do you expect me to use to evaluate your services?

Philosophical: Why do you do what you do? What do you think attracted you to your profession? How will we communicate and how often? Where do you see your practice in 5-10-20 years and how will you get there?

What do you feel is the most important aspect of your job? You have similar skills and services to other financial advisors, so what separates you from the rest?

Remember, you are one with the power to decide to hire the person you are "interviewing." Do not be shy or timid. Ask the questions that are important to you.

A little pre-planning can give you the confidence to help you make the decision that is right for you.

Luke Gawronski, a financial planner with Barnum Financial Group, is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC. lgawronski@barnumfg.com

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