In my last “No Dumb Questions,” I took a swing at some of those tricky questions that can be awkward to ask your existing advisor. Like: Whether there’s better financial advice out there than what you’re currently receiving.

And how an independent advisor can be the equivalent of a personal Chief Financial Officer for your family wealth.

But how do you find that ideal CFO to safeguard your best interests? Today, I’m going to mix things up a bit. For starters, we’re going to film this bit from our off-site location at the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club, where we’re proud to be supporting this year’s Golf Canada and Canadian Pacific Women’s Open. Also, in my next couple of videos, instead of answering a “No Dumb Question,” I’m going share some questions you can ask when interviewing financial advisors.

Keep sending me your own questions as well! And don’t forget to subscribe to “No Dumb Questions” for more answers to any awkward financial questions you may have been afraid to ask.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to be the boss of a business, you know how hard it is to interview job applicants. In a few, short conversations, you have to decide who you want to hang out with all day, every day, for years to come. Talking about potential water traps!

Thankfully, on the professional front, I think my hiring game has been above par. This summer, “Team Graham” has even come together to attend the CP Women’s Open at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club — from where we’re filming today’s segment.

In this video and my next one, let’s leverage some of the lessons I’ve learned as a business owner to offer nine questions you can use to interview and hire a “Chief Financial Officer” or CFO for your personal wealth. Here’s hoping you score a hole in one!

What are your credentials?

Just as you wouldn’t hire an apprentice to be your general contractor, you can quickly weed out any advisor applicants who simply don’t have the chops for the job. For starters, you should be able to disqualify anyone who lacks a robust résumé, including at least a financial degree or two, key industry licenses and several years of on-the-job experience. For example a CFP – a certified financial planner is a designation that requires some basic training in personal wealth and income taxes is a minimum requirement for me. Additional financial designations like CIM or CFA provide evidence of more significant training in financial markets. A CPA,CA designation is a big benefit for understanding and helping manage and optimize the outcomes of your business/financial structure. A TEP is a designation that shows experience and training in estate matters. Being licensed for securities, rather than limited to mutual funds is also key.

What services do you provide?

Is your would-be advisor equipped to provide a lot more than an investment account, stocked with the in house proprietary product offerings? If you’re going to pay an extra fee for advice about your total financial interests, you’d best find someone independent who talks and walks at a higher level of client care – like the kind I described in my recent video on getting your money’s worth out of your advisor fees.

How much am I paying?

Speaking of fees, I’ve seen this become an especially awkward question if your prospective advisor is also a friend or family member. Put it this way: If you’re uncomfortable asking about costs, or the advisor is dismissive when answering this basic question, is it worth risking your friendship or your best financial interests – or potentially both – by accepting a vague response?

How are you paid?

I’ve covered this one before, in this summer’s “Cautionary Tale” video. Besides understanding how much you are paying, it’s imperative to understand the sources of compensation involved. There are your fees that you pay clearly and directly. Then there are potential commissions, incentives, bonuses and so on that pass between the advisor, their employer and a host of potential third-party providers. Let’s just say the less of your advisor’s compensation that’s coming directly from you, the less likely it’ll be your best interests driving the play.

So … What are your credentials and what do you have to offer me? How much are am I paying, and in what form? These are four key questions that help eliminate the weakest players in an initial round. From there, you can start asking more probing questions to narrow the selection further. In my next “No Dumb Questions,” I’ll share five more questions you can use in your “find an advisor” championship. So you don’t miss part 2, be sure to subscribe to my channel, and click on that bell.