Sometimes you just have to pause…and reconsider a relationship.

Studies show that about 10% of investors are preparing to switch financial advisors or firms in the next year. It’s a big move, especially if the current relationship is more than several years old.

Don’t rush the process.

Gather information

Ask questions and ask lots of them. Drill down and dig deep. Sit down with potential advisors several times before making a decision. Write out your questions and set your agenda. You’re the employer looking to hire an employee. It’s a lot of work.

Besides all the usual information on investment philosophy, historical returns and risk tolerances, get a feel for the chemistry between you and the advisor. Are you comfortable talking with them? Are they listening to you, as in really listening? Do they speak plainly, using terms you understand? Can you trust them? What’s the vibe? Do you like them? With whom are they registered and what are their obligations regarding ongoing education and compliance with industry regulations?

Keep in mind that the advisor is probably asking themselves somewhat similar questions. They’re reading you, so it’s time to be as open about your finances as you can. Advisors are wondering whether you’re the type to stick to a plan and how you react given the market’s ups and downs. They want to know if things go wrong, will you have a tendency to point fingers and look for someone to blame. A big red flag is if you’ve moved several times in the past.

Finally, are you prepared to pay a fair price for advice, or will you have never-ending battles on commissions and comparisons with discount brokerage fees?

A list of questions – Part One

The entire list may seem overwhelming initially but remember, it is unlikely that you will use them all – pick the ones that are the most relevant for you. Look for someone who really thinks about your questions and gives considered responses. You don’t have time for quick glib gab.

General background

Tell me about yourself. How long have you been a financial advisor?
What did you do before you became a financial advisor? What made you decide to pursue this as a career?
What kind of qualifications do you have? Tell me more about those qualifications. What do you typically do each year to stay current?

General approach

Do you typically complete financial plans for clients like me? What would be covered in this plan? What would the process be to develop this plan?

Investment philosophy and your portfolio

What’s your investment philosophy and process? In your experience, how is this different from other advisors?
What kind of changes would you recommend in my current portfolio? Tell me more about your reasons for these changes.
Which of my current holdings would you suggest we retain?


How often do you typically meet with clients like me? How long do those meetings last? What do you cover in those meetings?


What would my annual fee be if we worked together, including fees charged by money managers?


Tell me about the team that you have supporting you.
Would you be my primary contact or would I be dealing with one of them day to day? What kinds of issues would I be talking to them about as opposed to you?

Watch our column next month when we’ll publish the second part of this list.

We’d love to hear your story about the markets and about how extraordinary you’ve been. Please send your e-mail to [email protected], or write us at MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier Inc., 1010 de la Gauchetiere Ouest, Montreal, H3B 4J1.

Adena Franz is a Vice President and Portfolio Manager at MacDougall MacDougall & MacTier Inc. She can be reached at 514-394-3771. The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. It does not account for specific investment objectives or the financial situation of any person reading it. Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier Inc. Investors should seek professional advice regarding the appropriateness of investing in any securities discussed or recommended here and should recognize that statements regarding future prospects may not be realized.

MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier Inc.
The Franz Group
1010 de la Gauchetiere Ouest, Suite 2000
Montreal, Quebec H3B 4J1