Six Factors to Consider Before Choosing Your Financial Adviser

Whether you’re a newbie investor or heading into retirement, seeking assistance from a financial adviser can help you take your finances to the next level.

Client and financial adviser discuss a financial plan.
(Image credit: Getty)

Not only can a financial adviser help you align your money with your future goals, but they can also provide a certain peace of mind that lets you be sure your money is working for you instead of against you.

But not all financial advisers are created equal, and not all are going to be a good fit for you and your goals. So before you narrow down your list, consider the following factors suggested by the financial and investment experts of Kiplinger Advisor Collective to be sure your potential pick has your best interests in mind.

If they are a good listener and communicator

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“The adviser should have emotional intelligence with a clear interest in listening and communicating. It's vital to find an adviser who understands your lived experiences and who is willing to have thoughtful and heartfelt discussions about reaching your financial goals. It's also about listening to your gut and researching to determine if the adviser has the education and experience you need.” Jason Vitug, Phroogal

If they are a sworn fiduciary

“If you're solving only for the question of ‘do they have my best interests in mind,’ the most important factor by far is whether they're a sworn fiduciary. Fiduciaries are obligated to act in their clients' best interests. Non-fiduciaries adhere to a looser ‘suitability’ standard that allows them to recommend subpar investments. They're also more likely to get commissions and kickbacks on those recommendations.” Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers LLC

If you like them as a person

“One key factor: Do you like each other? Trust is extremely important in order for a client to share their financial skeletons with an adviser, let alone invest their money with one! People are wired to connect on a human level first. ‘Fiduciary’ doesn't mean you will like or trust someone. As leadership speaker John C. Maxwell said, ‘People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ Do a gut check and then dig into credentials.” Derek Notman, Couplr

Kiplinger Advisor Collective is the premier criteria-based professional organization for personal finance advisors, managers, and executives. Learn more >

If they ask the right questions

“Listen to the quality of a professional's questions and ask that they prove they were listening! Think about it this way: Can a doctor recommend any action without running tests and asking about your health history first? The minimum requirement for the Know Your Client (KYC) framework is usually woefully lacking, but the questions an adviser asks will help you ensure you're aligned on goals.” H. Adam Holt, Asset-Map

If they're trusted by your personal network

“Trust is key. I tapped my personal finance network to find recommendations for a fee-only Certified Financial Planner. Asking your professional network (CPAs, lawyers or others in the space) can ensure you are only given recommendations for someone who has your best interests in mind.” Marcus Garrett, The Marcus Garrett, LLC

If they personalize their recommendations

“Like finding a good doctor, the key is determining how well the adviser listens, spends the time to fully understand your concerns and goals and then responds with a personalized course of action. There are many professionals who create a preset solution or have a worldview that they use like a hammer, with every client problem being a proverbial nail. Look for concern and actions that build connection and trust.” Bill Hortz, Institute for Innovation Development


The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.

Kiplinger Advisor Collective

Kiplinger Advisor Collective is the premier criteria-based professional organization for personal finance advisors, managers, and executives.