By Harness WealthBusiness Insight — March 13, 2019

Questions for Selecting an Adviser

Finding the right advisers for you consists of both finding an adviser with the right skillset for your unique needs as well as the right level of service. There is no substitute for speaking directly to an adviser before making a final decision. Here are some guidelines to consider when evaluating an Adviser.

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Engaging an adviser, whether for financial, tax, or legal advice, is a significant decision in your financial life. Advisers are able to add value in numerous ways as you identify new goals, seek to address financial concerns, and approach significant life events. Moreover, an adviser decision is a long-term one, intended to last years or even decades. As such, ensuring you find the right adviser is essential.

Finding the right advisers for you consists of both finding an adviser with the right skillset for your unique needs as well as ensuring they service you in the way that you would like. There is no substitute for speaking directly with advisers to understand how they talk through issues, identify actions to take, and address your overall concerns.

In order to get the most out of your initial meeting(s), knowing which questions to ask can ensure you are able to obtain all the necessary information before making a final decision. We outlined some guidelines for you to consider here.

Questions for Financial Advisers

When exploring a new financial advisory relationship, the following questions will help you understand the adviser’s view on what improvements you can make to your current portfolio, how you can better make future financial decisions, and also how the adviser reacts to market downturns and focuses on client-centric portfolio creation. These questions include:

Investment Approach:

  1. What are the biggest opportunities you see based on the way I am currently managing my capital?
  2. Which of my current investments (if any) would you definitely keep?
  3. Which asset classes/types of investments don’t I have that you would recommend?

Financial Planning Approach:

  1. For the major purchases/expenditures that I have planned or wish to make in the future, how would you help me think through the decision?
  2. Do you have current clients in my industry and at a similar phase of financial journey?
  3. Tell me about some of the client relationships where you have had the biggest positive impact?
  4. What are the most important information/research resources you use to determine your approach?
  5. How did you manage your clients during the 2008 recession?

Client Service Approach:

  1. Who would take over my account if you were to become sick or need to leave your practice?
  2. How often do you like to communicate with your clients? What would you expect me to proactively reach out about?
  3. Why did you choose to work at (or start) this firm? What do you think makes it unique?

Questions for Tax Advisers

When looking to engage a tax adviser, whether simply for yearly tax compliance or for more complex, ongoing tax planning, it is important to understand what role the firm and its team members will play in assisting you, how the firm has made an impact for previous clients, and other important details. Questions to explore include:

Tax Management Approach:

  1. Are you willing to review my prior year 1040 filing?
  2. Do you have current clients in my industry and at a similar phase of financial journey?
  3. Tell me about some of the client relationships where you have had the biggest positive impact?
  4. What are the most important information/ research resources you use to stay on top of changes in tax laws?
  5. How many of your clients were audited last year? How did you help them through the process?

Client Service Approach:

  1. How many clients do you work with where you prepare their individual taxes and not one for a related business?
  2. How will the team that works with me be structured? What role do you play and what do more junior people do?
  3. Who would take over my account if you were to become sick or need to leave your practice?
  4. Why did you choose to work at (or start) this firm? What do you think makes it unique?

 

Questions for Trust & Estate Lawyers

When exploring a trust and estate lawyer, learning about how the team around you is structured, what the firm has done to have the greatest impact for previous clients in a similar position, and what structures the firm most often creates for clients, among other details, is essential to fully understanding how the lawyer will engage with you based on your personal situation. Areas to probe on include:

Trust & Estate Management Approach:

  1. Do you have current clients in my industry and at a similar phase of financial journey?
  2. Tell me about some of the client relationships where you have had the biggest positive impact?
  3. What are the most important information/ research resources you use to stay on top of changes in tax laws?
  4. How many of your clients were audited last year? How did you help them through the process?

Client Service Approach:

  1. How will the team that works with me be structured? What role do you play and what do more junior people do?
  2. Who would take over my account if you were to become sick or need to leave your practice?
  3. Why did you choose to work at (or start) this firm? What do you think makes it unique?
  4. What type of trusts/ legal documents do you create most often?

Working with an adviser to manage the financial, tax and legal complexities you face provides a lot of value, but specifically finding the right adviser tailored to your personal goals, needs, and concerns can make all the difference as you strive to plan for the future and ultimately achieve the impact you desire. To identify advisers who are right for you, get started here.