In the August issue, we published the first set of questions to help those investors considering a switch from their current money manager or financial advisor. Indeed, it’s a big move and asking the potential advisor(s) for the information you need during the interview process is an integral part of making your move a success.

So don’t rush the process. Gather material and prepare your list, using the following to guide you. Remember to focus on those questions that are most relevant to you.

Registration

With which authorities are you registered?
What is your official title?
Tell me about your compliance department and how my accounts are protected with your firm.

Your clientele

We all have preferences insofar as the people we prefer to work with. What’s the most important thing you look for in a new client? Describe the kind of client you find you work with best?
What’s the average asset level of your clients? How many client households do you work with – and where would my portfolio fit in?

Tell me about the last couple of clients who left you and took their account elsewhere. Have you had any client complaints to your firm in the past couple of years?

General approach

Some advisors focus on getting the investment process right while some others also offer insurance and tax planning along with estate and retirement planning issues. Where do you fall on this spectrum?

Investment philosophy and your portfolio

I know that some financial advisors build portfolios of stocks and bonds for clients themselves, some delegate this to money managers and some do a combination of the two. What is your approach?
How do you go about building portfolios or choosing money managers? To what extent do you rely on research from your firm or outside parties in selecting stocks and money managers? How do you go about monitoring portfolios or money managers?

The last 12 months

How did you position client portfolios like mine going into the beginning of last year?
What kinds of changes have you recommended to clients since last fall? What kind of advice are you providing to clients like me today? What are you doing to manage risk?
Without getting into the actual dollar amounts, in general terms would you be willing to share what you held in your own portfolio going into last fall and what your own portfolio looks like today?
In your opinion, what are the most important lessons you’ve learned as a result of the events of the past year?

Taking notes during the meeting will help you remember the answers, particularly if you meet with several advisors. And remember that while feeling comfortable with a new advisor is important, you want to balance that with an assurance of competency and experience.

And finally, when you’re all done, what do you do with all the answers? We’ll look at that question in our column next month. Stay tuned!

We’d love to hear your story about the markets and about how extraordinary you’ve been. Please send your e-mail to ptria@3macs.com, 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
www.3macs.com

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