My finances 5 min

9 questions to ask your personal finance specialist

How to choose the right personal finance specialist based on their title, services, compensation method, clientele, and other key criteria.

By Fonds de solidarité FTQ

One of the secrets to successfully managing your finances is seeking the guidance of a personal finance specialist. Of course, this individual must have the right expertise for your needs. There are many specialties in the financial services industry, so it's important to track down the right person to help you achieve your goals. Read on to view our list of nine essential questions to ask your personal finance specialist during your first meeting.

Your personal finance specialist is your financial ally

Before thinking about which questions to ask, remember that the role of a personal finance specialist is to guide you as an investor. They're meant to help you achieve your financial goals so you can carry out your life projects.

There are many types of personal finance specialists.For example, if you'd like to build your RRSP by investing in a mutual fund based on your risk tolerance, you should speak with a mutual fund dealer representative. If you're looking for a global picture of your financial situation, contact a financial planner. With your needs and objectives in mind, they'll help you develop an action plan adapted to your fiscal and legal reality. There are many other personal finance experts, each with their own specialization.

Questions to ask your personal finance specialist

01What is your title?

To understand the role of a personal finance specialist and determine whether they can deliver the services you're looking for, you first need to know their area or areas of expertise. Some are highly specialized, like socially responsible investment experts and financial advisors for seniors, whereas others are considered generalists, like financial planners and mutual fund dealer representatives.

You should also take this opportunity to get to know your personal finance specialist. Ask them why they chose their specialization and how long they've been practising. We also recommend that you look up their name in the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) Register of firms and individuals authorized to practiseAttention, this link will open a new tab.Attention, this link will open a new tab.Attention, this link will open a new tab.Attention, this link will open a new tab.* to make sure they have the right to pursue the activities related to the services they're offering.

02How are you compensated?

Personal finance specialists earn their money through different means. Some, for example, receive commissions on financial transactions or products. Those who work at financial institutions often have a salary and earn bonuses when they reach their sales objectives. If you'd prefer to avoid a sales-based arrangement, consider financial planners, as they charge an hourly or yearly rate. Personal finance specialists can also earn a combination of a fee plus commissions.

03What types of investments do you suggest?

Before your personal finance specialist can recommend any type of investmentAttention, this link will open a new tab.Attention, this link will open a new tab.Attention, this link will open a new tab., they need to learn about your situation, projects, and risk tolerance. For example, consider these scenarios:

  • If you're saving for a down payment on a house that you'd like to buy in two years, your risk tolerance will probably be quite low. Your personal finance specialist may therefore suggest a low-risk investment like a bond mutual fund.
  • If you're planning to retire in the next 5 to 10 years to travel, they may recommend an investment product with a balanced mix of stocks and bonds.
  • Finally, if you're saving for the next 10 years or more and have a high risk tolerance, your personal finance specialist may suggest a growth fund. This type of investment consists primarily of shares, which are riskier than bonds.

04What services do you offer beyond the purchase and sale of securities?

Financial planners can develop an action plan based on your overall situation, and some personal finance specialists offer analysis services and recommendations to buy or sell securities. Others also sell personal insurance. If your personal finance specialist can't meet all your needs, they can usually refer you to other professionals in their network.

05How often will we meet?

The frequency of your meetings will depend on your needs, but personal finance specialists generally follow up with their clients once a year. However, you can establish a new, complete financial plan every five years, unless a significant life change has impacted your finances, such as a divorce, the birth of a child, or a sudden influx of money. Meetings with your personal finance specialist are crucial to ensure that your plan remains relevant to your current financial goals and reality.

06How should I contact you and what is your average response time?

This will give you a good idea of the individual's responsiveness. You can then decide if your personalities are compatible.

 A handshake between an advisor and his client.

07How will you help me reach my goals?

Before meeting your personal finance specialist, take a moment to consider your short- medium-, and long-term goals. Think about your income, expenses, assets, debts, and insurance. Your personal finance specialist will have an easier time assessing your financial situation if they have this information on hand. They can then help you determine clear objectives and show you how to attain them by recommending the investments best suited to your needs.

08Do you have other clients like me?

Many personal finance specialists work with a specific clientele—entrepreneurs or physicians, for example. Often, their clients have comparable financial means, goals, and concerns. You may benefit from having a personal finance specialist who has experience working on cases like yours. Above all, make sure that the specialist you choose fully understands your reality and needs.

09How can I easily keep an eye on my investments?

You can usually check on your investments via an online platform. A mobile app may also be available for your convenience. In most cases, you can opt to receive updates by email or regular mail.

Choosing a personal finance specialist is an important decision when managing your finances. If you take the time to meet with several individuals and ask the right questions, you'll increase your chances of choosing the right expert for your needs, situation, and goals.

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Legal note
* The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) is not associated in any way with the Fonds de solidarité FTQ website. Any reference to the AMF is for information purposes only.

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