You're in Charge during Advisor Interviews

The initial meeting with any advisor is a physical and mental handshake, an exercise in sizing someone up. The advisor wants to earn your business, and you want to choose the best possible helper. Your first interaction and impression will go a long way to determining if a long, rewarding financial relationship is in the cards.

Many times, advisors dominate the interview. They need to get information to know if they can help you, and they have these meetings all the time, so they know the ground that should be covered and can direct you toward what they consider most important.

Don't be bashful.
Get every bit of information you need, whether the advisor thinks it's important or not. If the advisor is not willing to accommodate you when she does not have your business, how will she treat you if you become a client?

Smart Investor Tip

If the advisor is not willing to accommodate you when she does not have your business, how will she treat you if you become a client?

The advisor's experience often leads her to jump ahead and assume she'll get your business, because that's what happens with most people. It should never be a foregone conclusion that your first meeting will lead to working together, particularly since you should interview several candidates before making a decision. Unless you simply need someone to facilitate a transaction -- so that you need someone to process your stock trades or punch out your tax return in a flash -- you should plan to do three to five meetings before settling on an advisor.

You need those go-sees to find the right balance between art and science. The science part of any financial relationship is how well someone does with "procedures." Just about any lawyer can draft a will, and you will seldom meet a tax preparer or accountant who backs down from a challenging tax return. Brokers and financial planners can come up with investment ideas for anyone.

What distinguishes one advisor in your mind will be how he or she finesses the science and blends it with art. It's about how confident the advisor can make you feel about their ability to handle the chores, and how comfortable the advisor can make you overall.

Smart Investor Tip

First interviews are about how confident the advisor can make you feel about her ability to handle the chores and how comfortable the advisor can make you overall.

By Chuck Jaffe
Chuck Jaffe is a senior columnist and host of two weekly podcasts at MarkWatch. He has also been a guest speaker on several television and radio shows.

Copyrighted 2016. Content published with author's permission.

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