10 Tips

Choosing a Financial Planner

The FSPC offers the following 10 tips for choosing a financial planner.


1. Be prepared: Do some independent research to maximize your familiarity with financial planning terms and strategies.

2. Think about your financial and personal goals: Take the time to reflect on what's most important to you for both today and tomorrow.

3. Ask for referrals:
Speak with friends and family members whom you trust; ask them if they know of or have worked with financial planners they would recommend to you.

4. Your due diligence: Get referrals from sources you trust, but also take the time to verify the planner's credentials by contacting his professional body to confirm he is in good standing.

5. Interview more than one planner:
Interview two or three planners, either by phone or in person, and ask them to outline their qualifications and experience.

6. Understand fee structures:
Planners are paid in a variety of ways (i.e., commission, fee-only, salary) so understand how a particular planner will be compensated.

7. Look for competence and ethics: Ensure the planner you choose has a qualified based on a rigorous education and experience.

8. Get it in writing: Insist on a written letter (sometimes called an engagement letter) outlining the specific terms of the engagement and any potential conflicts of interest. The letter should also clearly disclose the planner's method of compensation and business affiliations.

9. Re-assess the relationship regularly: Frequent communication is imperative to a good relationship with your planner. Make sure your planner understands your needs as they change over time, and have your planner update your plan accordingly.

10. It's all about fit: If you don't feel comfortable discussing personal issues with a particular planner, continue your search. Honesty, trust and communication (on both sides) are critical to the success of the planning relationship.

Stewart Financial Services

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