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Senior Financial Advisors Checklist

There are a lot of things you’ll want to learn before deciding whom to trust with your investments, financial planning, and asset management. For each retirement planner that’s on your list to consider, you can use this checklist to keep track of what you find out before you make your choice.

To download a printable version of this checklist, please click here.

Planner Qualifications

  • How did you hear about this planner?
  • Is the advisor a Certified Financial Planner?
  • What are the planner’s other certifications?
  • If the advisor is also a securities broker or insurance salesperson, is his or her license current?
  • Are the financial advisor’s certifications and licenses currently valid?
  • Has he or she ever been disciplined by a governing body or sued by a client?
  • Have there been any consumer complaints filed against the advisor?
  • If so, what was the outcome?
  • Is this financial advisor a fiduciary?

Planner Experience and Specialties

  • How long has this financial planner been in business?
  • What are his or her special areas of expertise?
  • If you need insurance for life, disability, and long-term care, does the retirement planner offer those as well?
  • Did the planner provide you with a list of references?
  • If so, how many of them are long-time clients or clients with financial needs similar to yours?

Senior Financial Advisor Fees, Commissions, and Penalties

  • Is this financial advisor paid a commission to sell products to clients?
  • If so, which products?
  • Does the financial planner charge an hourly rate for service?
  • If so, what’s the rate, and how much can you expect to pay each year?
  • Is the planner paid an annual fee based on a percentage of your investments under management?
  • If so, what is the percentage, and how much can you expect to pay per year?
  • Will that percentage change if the value of your investments changes?
  • Will the planner charge you a fee if you become a client but later decide to move your investments to a new advisor?
  • If so, how much will the change cost you?
  • If you decide to change planners later, will this planner help make the transition easy for you?

The Planner and You

  • Do you meet the minimum asset requirement for this retirement planner?
  • Does she or he ask you about your investment and retirement goals?
  • Does the planner take your risk tolerance into account when offering advice?
  • Does the planner take the time to answer all of your questions and to explain the reasoning behind his or her advice?
  • Does the planner welcome you to bring a family member or friend to your meetings, if you wish, to take notes and ask questions?
  • Does the planner promise you a sky-high or guaranteed return on an investment?
  • Does this advisor want you to make a decision right away?
  • How often will you meet with the planner in person?
  • How often will you talk with the planner by phone or email?

The Financial Advisor's Staff

  • If the planner has partners or a staff, are they easy to reach when you have questions?
  • If you leave a phone message or send an email, does the staff respond in a timely manner?
  • Do the planner’s co-workers and support staff seem helpful and professional?