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10 Must-Ask Questions for Your Financial Advisor

10 Must-Ask Questions for Your Financial Advisor

| July 21, 2023

In today’s world, we have an abundance of choices for nearly everything. From picking a place to eat to selecting a doctor, the sheer number of options can leave us feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about our decisions. When it comes to choosing a financial advisor, the stakes are even higher. How can you determine which advisor is the perfect match for your unique needs and preferences? How can you be sure you will work well together?

Choosing the right financial professional to manage your family’s wealth is a decision that can leave an impact on your investment strategy, fees, and overall financial outlook. With each advisor offering different levels of service, experience, and expertise, it’s important not to rush this process. Take the time to find an advisor who aligns with your needs and instills a sense of confidence in your future. As you begin your search, consider asking the following 10 questions to potential candidates to guide you to the right fit.

1. Are You a Fiduciary?

There’s a reason this is the first question—its importance cannot be overstated! An advisor who serves as a fiduciary accepts a responsibility to put his or her clients’ interests first and foremost in all decisions. A fiduciary is legally required to avoid conflicts of interest and remain unbiased in their recommendations and advice. 

How can you know for certain that an advisor you’re interviewing is a fiduciary? The firm will either be listed as a Registered Investment Advisor or the advisors on the team will hold certifications that hold them to the fiduciary standard, such as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Chartered Financial Analyst®, or Certified Public Accountant professional designations. Keep in mind, if the advisor doesn’t fit those descriptions, they may still act as a fiduciary in certain situations, like sharing a recommendation, but not necessarily when selling products. 

Horizon Planning Group is a Registered Investment Advisory firm and abides by the fiduciary standard of professional conduct. We believe in transparency and honesty, doing what we say and finishing what we start—all for your benefit. 

2. Do You Hold Any Credentials?

We take credentials seriously, and we think you should too. Credentials and education play a critical role in your advisor’s competence. There are hundreds of designations in the financial services field, and some are more applicable to your needs than others. 

Our team holds a variety of credentials, including the CFP® (CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™) certification, which recognizes the knowledge and experience to help people navigate financial intricacies of investment planning, taxes, asset distribution, and the estate planning necessary to walk forward into a confident future. As a firm, we pursue education and credentials because of how dedicated we are to providing unparalleled client service.

Use a designation-check database to learn more about the credentials financial advisors can earn, and ask the advisors you are researching what they do to continually hone their skills and stay up to date in the industry. 

3. What Is Your Planning and Investment Philosophy?

It’s important to work with an advisor who shares a planning and investing philosophy similar to your own. Does your advisor stick to a scientific, evidence-based approach? Do they believe in buy-and-hold or do they move to cash when the market looks shaky? Talk with an advisor about how they guide clients’ investing and financial decisions. 

At Horizon Planning Group, we know that a sound asset allocation and protection strategy is a key factor in creating a confident financial future. Our investment strategies are customized to your unique goals and needs so you can maximize your growth while shielding your wealth.

4. How Much Do You Charge?

Financial planning and investment costs can be confusing. And too often financial advisors don’t readily disclose their fees. Our transparent, fee-based structure aligns our compensation with your long-term goals. We offer fee-based asset management services as well as commissionable products, which allows us to design a custom solution that fits your financial needs and goals. 

We do what is in the client’s best interest. We always want our clients to feel comfortable with their strategies and confident knowing what they’re paying and what they’re receiving for their money. 

5. Who Do You Serve?

Some financial advisors focus on serving a specific demographic or level of investable assets, so you’ll want to find this out before choosing an advisor. Why is this important? Because you deserve advice and services tailored to your unique needs. 

Whether you’re starting a business, reevaluating your investments, or looking to plan for a more stable retirement, at Horizon Planning Group, our team of financial advisors can help you navigate your finances with confidence. We don’t take control of your finances—we help you take control of your future. Our experience in the areas of business, retirement, pre-retirement, and estate planning allows us to offer advice that can make the most difference in your life.

6. Who Else On Your Team Will Be Working With Me?

At some firms, you may work with multiple financial advisors depending on your appointment time or needs, while other firms may pair you up with one financial advisor with whom you’ll work one-on-one. This is important to know so you can meet the other team members with whom you might be collaborating. 

While you will have a strong relationship with your primary advisor, everyone at Horizon Planning Group works as a team to offer you the highest level of service. We spend a lot of time getting to know our clients and their goals, and we strive to put your dreams at the heart of your financial plan. 

7. What Financial Planning Services Do You Offer?

Not all financial advisors can provide comprehensive financial planning. Some cannot sell insurance or securities, such as mutual funds or stocks, if they don’t have the appropriate licenses. Ask a financial advisor what services they provide, whether or not they have a focus, and if they offer a broad spectrum of solutions to meet your needs. When creating a plan together, be sure to ask your advisor why they are recommending particular services and solutions over others.

At Horizon Planning Group, our comprehensive services include retirement planning, asset management, cash flow analysis, estate planning, tax strategies, lending coordination, philanthropic strategies, and more. 

8. What Sets You Apart From Other Financial Advisors? 

We know you have plenty of options to choose from, but there are a few things we do differently: 

  1. Our firm has been around for nearly 20 years. Over the years, we have created proven and reliable systems and processes that we use to help our clients work toward their goals. 
  2. Our advice is tailored to you. We don’t give pat answers; instead, we do the legwork to get to know you, your situation, your dreams, and your challenges. As a wealthy individual with a unique career, our specialized touch can make all the difference.
  3. We build our client relationships on integrity, dependability, and accountability. We are passionate about what we do, and confident in how we do it. 

9. Do You Offer a Client Portal?

We believe it’s important to see the big picture and all the moving parts of your financial life. When you decide to work with us, you will have access to a client center where you can access all your assets. You’ll also receive a login so you can see all your accounts in one place, view performance reports, and check your financial plan documents. You can access these platforms through our website. 

10. How Can I Know if Your Firm Is Right for Me?

When selecting your advisor, the relationship should feel right and you should never feel pressured to make a decision quickly. We offer a complimentary consultation, during which you can ask questions, evaluate our processes and services, determine if our personality is a good fit, and give you the information you need to make an informed decision. 

Find a Partner You Can Trust 

A trustworthy advisor should be open and willing to address these questions, as well as any others you may have regarding their practices. If you’re unsure where to begin, seek referrals from friends and family, as their experiences can guide you in the right direction.

At Horizon Planning Group, we prioritize transparency and aim to create a welcoming environment for our clients to freely ask any question on their minds. If you’d like to explore our responses to these or have other questions, we invite you to contact us today to schedule an introductory meeting online or reach out to me at (770) 627-4157 or to get started.

About Nick

Nick Marrano is financial advisor at Horizon Planning Group, a full-service financial planning firm committed to always doing what’s right for their clients. With almost 10 years of experience, Nick spends his days serving his military and first responder clients who give their lives to serve others. As a former U.S. Marine, he understands their challenges and desires to help his clients navigate their military benefits and customize a plan to their lifestyle that allows them to pursue their goals with confidence.

Nick has a bachelor’s degree in finances from Kennesaw State University. He lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife, daughter, and their two dogs. His favorite things to do are being outdoors with his family, traveling, and completing projects around the house, but he also won’t say no to unwinding with his friends and playing Xbox. Nick cares deeply about his community and gives back by volunteering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and local charities that support foster-care needs. To learn more about Nick, connect with him on LinkedIn.

This is for educational and informational purposes only and is not research or a recommendation regarding any security or investment strategy. 

The information given herein is taken from sources that IFP Advisors, LLC, dba Independent Financial Partners (IFP), IFP Securities LLC, dba Independent Financial Partners (IFP), and its advisors believe to be reliable, but it is not guaranteed by us as to accuracy or completeness. This is for informational purposes only and in no event should be construed as an offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or products. Please consult your tax and/or legal advisor before implementing any tax and/or legal related strategies mentioned in this publication as IFP does not provide tax and/or legal advice. Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and do not take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situation, or needs of individual investors. This report may not be reproduced, distributed, or published by any person for any purpose without IFP’s express prior written consent.

Securities offered through IFP Securities, LLC, dba Independent Financial Partners (IFP), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through IFP Advisors, LLC, dba Independent Financial Partners (IFP), a Registered Investment Advisor. IFP and Horizon Planning Group, Inc. are not affiliated. 

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, and CFP® (with plaque design) in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.