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Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor

This tool will help you interview a financial advisor so you can understand the advisor's credentials, how he or she is compensated, and what obligation the advisor has to you. Some advisors are required to act in your best interests, while others are simply required to offer suitable investments. This can mean being offered an investment consistent with your interests but that could result in higher compensation for the advisor.

For more investor education, visit www.nasaa.org/investor-education. To research the background and experience of financial advisors and firms, visit brokercheck.finra.org or www.adviserinfo.sec.gov.

By continuing with this tool, you agree and understand that AARP is not providing financial advice or recommending any individual financial advisor. The selection of a financial advisor is a personal decision that should made after careful consideration of your individual financial situation.

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Take Our Pre-Meeting Quiz!

Let's find out what you know about financial advisors by taking this quick quiz. We'll ask you to take it again after your conversation with an advisor to see if your answers change.

How to Start the Conversation

Here's a sample script on how to start the conversation with a financial advisor, so there's never that awkward moment.

Thanks for taking the time to meet with me today. I'd like to ask some questions about your background, the services and products you offer, and how you are compensated. I have a few opening questions to get our conversation going that I received from AARP. First, what is your overall investment philosophy?

Also, how often do you review a client's portfolio and recommend changes?

Now that you've learned how to start the conversation, here are some questions that you should ask. Please share your results after you have spoken to your advisor. Simply answer each question and click 'submit'.

Experience, Licenses, Education

  • How many years have you been providing financial planning or investment advisory services?

    Less than 1 year

    1-5 years

    5 or more years

  • What licenses or professional designations do you hold?

  • Have you ever been disciplined by a regulator or sued by customers?

    Yes

    No

Services and Products

  • What financial services do you provide?
    (Click all that apply)

    Comprehensive Financial Planning

    Tax Planning

    Mutual Fund Selection

    Business Planning

    Tax Preparation

    Brokerage Services

    Estate Planning

    Insurance

    Investment and Asset Management

    Retirement Planning

    Education Funding

  • What types of investments do you offer to clients?
    (Click all that apply)

    Stocks

    Municipal Securities

    Futures / Commodities

    Certificates of Deposit

    US Government Securities

    Mutual Funds

    Limited Partnerships

    Coins or Other Collectibles

    Bonds

    Options

    Insurance Products

    Direct Participation Programs

    Other

  • Will you provide a written analysis of my particular financial situation and recommendations?

    Yes

    No

  • How often will you meet with me to review my investments?

    Once per quarter

    Twice per year

    Once per year

    Other

  • Does the brokerage/advisory firm with which you are affiliated limit the products you can offer investors to only those produced by the firm?

    Yes

    No

  • Are the returns on my investment guaranteed?

    Yes

    No

Compensation

  • How are you compensated?
    (Check all that apply)

    Percentage of assets under management

    Commissions and loads for financial products purchased and sold

    Salary

  • Will you break out all of your fees and commissions?

    Yes

    No

  • Do you charge fees for services like duplicate copies of investment statements, postage and handling, or transfer on death fees?

    Yes

    No

Standard of Care

  • Does your relationship with me fall under a "best interests" or a "suitability" standard?

    Best interests

    Suitability

Test what you learned before you go!

Make sure to complete our post-meeting quiz

Take Our Post-Meeting Quiz!

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  • Yes

    No

    I don't know

  • Salary

    Commission

    Based on the amount of my assets under management

    It depends

    I don't know

  • Yes

    No

    I don't know

  • Yes

    No

    I don't know

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