Managing your family’s financial situation and goals from retirement planning to investments to estate and income tax planning to risk management and beyond is a massive undertaking – so big, in fact, that it’s our full-time job as Private Client Wealth Advisors here at Bankers Trust.

It’s only natural to want and need some expert assistance in coordinating some or all of those aspects of your financial journey. But where and how do you start the search? What questions should you ask? How will you know what the good signs or red flags are if you’ve never done this sort of thing before?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here are a few key questions to ask anyone you are considering in the role of financial planner, investment manager, or Trustee:

1. What services do you offer?

It’s important to understand which areas of financial planning the advisor can help you with. By asking this question, you’ll learn if they specialize in just one area, or if they can help with a variety of areas, such as investment management, fiduciary services (estate settlement, Trustee services), tax and estate planning, insurance needs, and more.

2. How are you compensated for your services?

Advisors can be compensated in a few different ways, including a percentage of assets under management, a commission on a purchase or sale transaction, a flat fee, or a retainer fee. In the interest of transparency, it’s important to understand how your advisor is compensated.

3. Do you adhere to a “Fiduciary Standard”?

A fiduciary is someone with a legal duty to put the client’s interest above his/her own. Fiduciaries are held to a higher standard than the traditional commission-based model, which requires that investments are “suitable” for customers. Failure to perform this duty (breach) can result in legal liability for the fiduciary advisor.

Trust departments at banks are usually general fiduciaries; many investment managers and financial planners have a fiduciary duty only to investments.

4. What credentials, licenses, and other qualifications do you have?

Working with credentialed or licensed advisors generally benefits clients because the credentials often requires the advisor to adhere to a code of ethics and satisfy continuing education requirements in order to keep the credential or license status active.

Not all credentials and licenses are created equal, so do a little homework to evaluate quality and rigor.

5. Can you provide references?

An advisor should be willing to provide current client references so that a prospective client may hear first-hand about the advisor’s performance, communication, and other aspects of the service the advisor provides.

6. Are you available for an initial/introductory meeting?

Don’t discount the value of a face-to-face connection. Advisors are individuals with unique personalities, “bedside manner,” and areas of expertise. One size does not fit all. When in doubt, go with your gut. After all, if you don’t enjoy sitting across the table from the advisor, it is unlikely you will be fully invested in or satisfied with the relationship.

7. What is your career journey?

Asking this question can help you understand where the advisor is in their career. If the advisor is close to his/her own retirement, you may have to go through the advisor selection process all over again in a few years’ time. If long-term continuity in relationship management across generations is a “must-have” on your list, consider choosing an advisor of your approximate age group or younger.

Are you ready to begin working with a trusted partner as you move along your financial journey? Connect with a Bankers Trust Private Client Wealth Advisor today.

Next Steps:

  1. Check out my other Wealth Solutions articles.
  2. Contact me with any questions on what to look for in a financial partner.
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