The right financial adviser should result in a lifelong bond

The world is more complicated than ever. The only certainty seems to be more uncertainty.

People like you are living longer, the markets are volatile and tax laws are changing.

More people seem to be uncomfortable managing their own financial affairs, especially as they age.

An obvious solution is to hire a financial professional.

The problem is, “How do I choose one from the many out there?” (Doesn’t it seem as if there is a financial adviser on every corner?)

If unsure, think about what you want in an adviser.

Next, it’s helpful to think about some of the questions you should ask. Understanding what you are looking for is a practical first step.


Paint your own picture of the qualities this person possesses. Think about several of the C’s many affluent investors consider vital.

One of the most important C’s is character. As a consumer, be certain this person has your best interests in mind. Advisers also need to do what they say they are going to do in a timely fashion.

Another C is chemistry. You need to be comfortable with an adviser.

You are going to reveal very sensitive, personal, financial and family matters you don’t share with anyone else. Often, people like you communicate thoughts and feelings they do not even share with their spouse.


An obvious, but frequently overlooked C is competence. Throughout life, you will face countless impactful financial decisions. Teaming with an adviser who can guide you in making sensible and smart long-term decisions may prove valuable for you and your family.

Finally, an adviser needs to be consultative. Most affluent clients prefer advisers who use a collaborative approach, working not only with you but also your other professionals.

The “two heads are better than one” approach seems to be both practical and effective.


So now, you have the picture painted of what you are looking for.

What types of questions should you ask a financial adviser? Look at the C’s as a starting point.


Do you act as a fiduciary for your clients?

How do you charge for your services?

Can you provide an example of how you recently helped solve a client’s difficult problem?


Does the adviser talk more about himself or herself, rather than you?

Is the adviser client-centric? In other words, does the adviser ask probing questions to determine your wants, needs and goals?


What is your educational background?

Do you have any advanced degrees?

How long have you been an adviser?


Is the adviser more interested in selling his or her product or solving your needs?

Will the adviser coordinate your financial affairs with your other professionals, such as insurance, tax and legal experts?

How often will you meet and what services will the adviser provide?

Another option is to ask friends and family who they use. Have they had a good experience? Would they recommend their adviser for you?

One place to search is www.letsmakeaplan.org, which contains information about Certified Financial Planners, detailing their ethical standards and how to find one in your area.


Which adviser is right for you? The answer is simple: the one who will guide you in making a lifetime of financial decisions.

The adviser-client relationship is the same as any long-term friendship or relationship. The better they know you, the more they can tailor advice to your particular situation.

No two clients are the same, and neither is their advice.

Think deeply about your circumstances and where you need help. Doing so may simplify your search.

Paul Marrella is a wealth manager at Marrella Financial Group LLC in Wyomissing, public speaker and author of “What Now? The Widow’s Guide to Financial Independence.” He focuses on providing wealth management and retirement income solutions to successful families in southeastern Pennsylvania and can be reached at www.marrella.com or 610-655-9700.

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