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Ten Questions To Ask Your Financial Advisor

By David Thatcher, CFP®

Cypress Wealth Services


Do you ever feel overwhelmed when trying to choose a doctor, a contractor, or a company to do business with? With so many choices, how do you know which one will be the right fit for your situation or personality? How do you know if you’ll like them or work well with them?

When it comes to choosing a financial advisor, the stakes are even higher. The financial professional you choose to handle your family’s wealth will have a significant impact on your investment strategy, the fees you pay, and your confidence in your financial future. This is not a decision to take lightly, especially since each advisor has a different level of service, expertise, and ability. Taking all of that into consideration, it is vital that you take your time to find an advisor that meets your needs and makes you feel at ease. So, when you start your advisor search, ask potential candidates the following 10 questions.

1. How Much Experience Do You Have?

Experience is essential when you’re working with a professional of any kind, especially someone handling your finances. Don’t be shy about asking an advisor about their industry experience. It will give you peace of mind to know what market conditions they’ve experienced and how many years they’ve been working in the industry. At Cypress Wealth Services, our team is made up of a variety of professionals with diverse backgrounds and extensive experience and qualifications.

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.[1] Our advisory team has achieved many designations, including Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC). Use 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 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 specialty, 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. As a full-service firm handling everything from A to Z, our comprehensive retirement planning, financial planning, and investment management services revolve around what we term as the “Second Growth” phase of life, which occurs as you approach and live in retirement.

4. What Is Your Planning Philosophy?

It’s important to work with an advisor who shares a planning and investing philosophy similar to your own. If you’re nearing retirement, you may not want to work with an aggressive stockbroker, whereas if you’re new to investing, you may not want to be too conservative. Talk with an advisor about how he or she guides clients’ investing and financial decisions.

5. Who Do You Serve?

Some financial advisors specialize in serving a specific demographic or level of investable assets, so you’ll want to find this out before choosing an advisor. For example, if you’re a business owner, you may be better suited to work with an advisor specializing in helping business owners. At Cypress Wealth Services, we specialize in serving high-net-worth individuals, families, and business owners approaching or living in retirement.

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. At Cypress Wealth Services, you have an entire team behind you. Our team collaborates and most clients have at least two dedicated advisors assisting them with their needs. When you call the office and have a question, there is always someone you can speak to and who can help you. And not only do we work together, but we also collaborate with the other professionals in your life, such as CPAs, attorneys, and insurance agents, to ensure your entire financial life is integrated and coordinated.

7. How Much Do You Charge?

Financial planning and investment costs can be confusing. And too often, financial advisors don’t readily disclose their fees. We believe it’s important for our clients to know our costs upfront and how we get paid. During an initial consultation, we review all fees and investing costs before implementing any strategies. We want our clients to feel comfortable with their strategies and confident that they are no hidden fees eating away at their hard-earned savings.

8. Do You Receive a Commission?

Some financial advisors working with big banks earn their income on commissions. The problem with this is that advisors working on commission may be inclined to sell products that aren’t best suited for a client’s needs. As a fee-based independent financial firm, we charge a percentage of your assets under our management. The better your investments perform, the more we earn. Avoiding conflicts of interest, we instead focus on what we believe will best meet your goals and needs.

9. Are You A Fiduciary?

An advisor who serves as a fiduciary accepts a responsibility to put their clients’ interests first and foremost in all decisions. A fiduciary is supposed to avoid conflicts of interest and remain unbiased when giving recommendations and advice. As independent advisors, we agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, and as fiduciaries, we believe in transparency and putting the client first.

10. Have You Ever Violated Any Standards Or Laws?

It’s a good idea to research an advisor’s credentials and run a background check with regulatory agencies. Some advisors may have been subjected to disciplinary action if they violated any laws or if a client took action against them. You can look up an advisor’s professional history by visiting FINRA’s BrokerCheck or the SEC Advisor Disclosure website. These databases will also show you the years of experience an advisor has and the licenses and credentials he or she has.

Take Your Time And Trust Your Intuition

When selecting your advisor, the relationship should feel right and you should never feel pressured to make a decision quickly. An advisor should be happy to answer these questions and any others you may have about how they operate. If you don’t know where to start, ask friends and family for referrals to set you down the right path.

At Cypress Wealth Services, we believe in complete transparency and want our clients to feel comfortable working with us and asking us questions. If you’d like to learn more about our answers to these questions or any others you may have, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a complimentary consultation. To get started, contact one of our offices today.

About Cypress Wealth Services

Cypress Wealth Services (CWS) is an independent Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm that provides proactive financial advice and investment management for high net worth families, business owners, and institutions. Cypress Wealth Services comprises professionals with diverse backgrounds and extensive experience, qualifications and is uniquely qualified to serve a broad range of client needs. CWS’s experience and expertise have been the foundation for their proactive client service process and client Standard of Care. CWS’s multi-generational approach focuses on efficiently protecting and growing wealth while providing proactive financial advice as a client moves through each new stage of life. With offices in Palm Desert, CA, and Anchorage, AK, the firm serves clients across the country. For more information, visit or call 760.834.7250.