Questions to ask your advisor

Questions to ask your advisor

These questions will help you decide whether a particular financial advisor can provide the advice you need.

Remember that you are considering hiring them, so treat the questioning like a job interview.

Level of Service and Advice

  1. Will you be providing comprehensive, integrated financial advice? If not, what advice will you be providing? How often will I hear from you?
  2. How often will we review my financial plan to make sure I am on track?
  3. Do you provide a written summary of the highlights of our meetings?
  4. When I call, how long will it be before I will hear back? Will you return the call yourself or will your associate?
  5. If we have a problem, what steps should I take?


Type of Relationship

  1. Will our conversations be treated as confidential?
  2. Who besides you will have access to my information?
  3. Will I be dealing with you or one of your associates?
  4. Describe the profile of your typical client? Your ideal client?
  5. Is a minimum account size required?
  6. Is my account larger/smaller than your average account size?


The Costs

  1. How do I pay you?
  2. Directly: Fee for service, commissions, fee based on the size of my account, fees based on portfolio performance.
  3. Indirectly: Deferred sales charges and/or trailer fees, other fees based on the size of your account, or salary paid by your firm.
  4. What fees and other costs, both direct and indirect, are involved in working with you and your firm?
  5. Can you give me a dollar estimate of what those fees and costs would be for someone with my needs?
  6. Do you have a minimum annual fee?
  7. Do I have to pay GST or HST on top of these costs?



  1. Are you or your firm licensed to offer investments to the public?
  2. If yes, are you registered to provide financial planning advice?
  3. If no, are you qualified to provide financial planning advice?
  4. What is your professional training?
  5. What is your experience as a financial advisor?
  6. Do you carry professional liability insurance?
  7. How many hours of continuing education do you complete each year?
  8. Are you a member of any professional association?
  9. Has the regulator or your professional association ever disciplined you?


If You Want Them to Manage Your Investments

  1. Will you manage the investments yourself or outsource it?
  2. Is your firm registered with a major stock exchange or a member of the Investment Dealers Association?
  3. What sort of investor protection is available?
  4. What range of products and services do you offer?
  5. What is your investment philosophy?
  6. Will you be recommending any investments that would tie me to your firm? If so, which ones and why?
  7. What types of investments are you currently recommending?
  8. What potential conflicts of interest should I be aware of?
  9. Will you be required to call me before you make any changes in my investments?
  10. How often will you be reviewing my investment performance?


A good financial advisor expects you to discuss these topics and any other issues you feel would be pertinent to establishing a solid working relationship with them.

Excerpted with permission from Who’s Minding Your Money? Financial Intelligence for Canadian Investors by Sandra Foster (published by John Wiley & Sons, 2000).

© Copyright. No material can be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of Sandra Foster.