How to Find the Right Financial Advisor for Your Family

| May 16, 2014 | 12 Comments
Looking for Mr. Right Financial Advisor

Looking for Mr. Right Financial Advisor

When I meet with a family for the first time it’s kind of like a first date, we’re both a little nervous and excited, we are worried about first impressions and we hope this is client/advisor of our dreams.  We ask the usual get-to-know you questions such as how long have you lived in Ottawa, what your interests are, what kind of experiences you have had, what your plans for the future, are you looking for a long term relationship. At the end of the meeting we decide together if we want to take the next step in our relationship or go our separate ways. Not all advisors are the same and they may not be the right fit for you. It’s important that you both discuss and have a clear understanding of what each of you want out of the relationship.

What should you find out?

There a few basic things you should find out from your potential suitor:

1. What are your qualifications? 

They should tell you about their educational background, licenses, how long have they been in the industry, other relevant work experience and any industry certifications or designations they might have. This is important because you need someone who is committed and takes it seriously as the rules, regulations and products change quickly and you need to stay up to date to protect your clients. Being new to the industry is not a deal breaker as long as they have support, training and are licensed.  Would you want to have someone handling your investments and financial future who works full time at another job and is only a part-time advisor on evenings and weekends?

2. What products and services do you offer and who do you represent?

There are two kinds of advisors:

Captive – They only represent one company and can only offer products and services from that company.

Broker- They represent multiple companies and are able to compare products and services so you can choose the best one for your needs.

I am biased in which one is better but ask yourself, would you like to compare life insurance rates from multiple companies and have investment options such as guarantees on your capital? I don’t know about you but when I go shopping for a new shirt I don’t go to a store that sells only one colour of tank-tops in extra-small (no one wants to see that anyways), I go where there are multiple styles, colours and sizes and choose the one that fits and works the best.

3. Who are your clients and how can you help me?

There are different areas in the industry that an advisor can specialize in and each have different needs and knowledge. It is important to be upfront and honest about your current financial situation such as how much debt you have, your annual income and anything else important they should know.  You should also let them know what you are looking for i.e. debt consolidation, life insurance, investment advice, retirement planning or cash-flow planning. This will help both you and the advisor figure out if it’s the right fit  for them and if they offer the services and products that can help you reach your financial goals.  Surprises later on can ruin a relationship.

4.  Expectations 

You should discuss the details of what you expect to get out of this relationship and what you both need from each other to make it work. You should decide upfront how often you will need to meet, when will you get updates on your investments, when should you notify your  advisor about any changes in our financial situations and do you contact the advisor directly or their assistant. Your advisor should get a detailed information about your current financial situation including debts, assets, any life/health insurance policies, your short and long-term goals and risk tolerance.

A relationship with an advisor requires honesty, communication and trust from both of you in order to be successful.  Remember not all advisors are the same, don’t settle for the first one you meet or your mother’s best friends son that has a great personality, find one that can full fill your needs, be there when you need them and provide you with support and guidance to reach your financial goals.  If you don’t believe me when I say not all advisors are the same CBC Marketplace went undercover seeking financial advice from the country’s top banks and other financial firms for their episode “Show me the money” and they also have some great information including a checklist to help you. Good luck on your search and if you have a great advisor don’t be selfish and share them.


The information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon, or treated as a substitute for specific professional advice. I recommend that you obtain your own independent professional advice (preferably me) before making any decision in relation to your particular requirements or circumstances.


 bayat / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Category: Family, Finance, Living

About the Author ()

Andrew is a licensed Life Insurance Broker and Registered Retirement Consultant-RRC® helping Ottawa families since 2011. Awards : 2017 -Handpicked Top 3 Financial Services in Ottawa, 2017 Faces Magazine Awards – Ottawa’s Favorite Financial Advisor, 2017 Feedspot Top 40 Life Insurance Blogs on the web and 2016 Insurance Business Magazine – Life & Health Advisor of the Year Finalist.

Comments (12)

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  1. Brenda A says:

    Obviously we do not have a financial advisor as my complete ignorance is glowing here, but what types of services does an advisor offer? I am off to research a bit on my own, but I am curious!

  2. Judy C (Judy Cowan) says:

    Good tips, we have never had a financial planner for our family so these tips are helpful.

  3. Andrew W. Bradley says:

    Hi Brenda A,
    The first step is to determine what services you need and what goals you want to reach. Generally speaking advisors offer services such as investment advice, life insurance and cash flow planning.

  4. Heidi C. says:

    Thank you for this information. We need to get a financial planner and your tips are very helpful.

  5. Katina Michelis says:

    It is misleading to say that an advisor working for a specific company is limited to offering only the products of that company. I can’t speak for all advisors but I know I represent Sun Life Financial however I have access to insurance and investment products from Sun Life, RBC, GWL, Edge, CI, Blackrock, Fidelity, Sentry, and on and on…

  6. KD says:

    Those are good tips of things to ask about!

  7. Andrew W. Bradley says:

    Hi Katina,
    It is not misleading at all, if I go into a bank they can only sell that bank’s insurance and investments. You represent Sun Life – they trained you, provide you an office and other ongoing support, if you don’t sell their products how much longer do you think they would support your business. I am a member of the Independent Financial Brokers of Canada – I provide my own training, office etc that means no company has any interest in my business. That being said I have personally witnessed agents from similar large financial companies as Sun Life that tell clients that they are “brokers” because that is what they are trained to say, but then only present products from the parent insurance company that owns their office without looking at any other companies. It’s one thing to tell clients “they have access to other companies” and to really be an independent broker. Sorry for the long reply but it irritates me that people are mislead in thinking they have a choice, end up paying too much or not told by their advisor about products that are a better fit for their needs because that advisor’s company doesn’t sell them.

    • Katina Michelis says:

      I only speak for myself and I do offer products from other companies when it makes sense. The objective is to understand a client’s objectives, put together a financial plan to achieve those objectives, and work together to ensure that the plan is followed. The product is irrelevant in my opinion, it’s what it helps someone achieve that matters.

      As for Sun Life, yes they train advisors, as do the other companies whose products we can offer. Advisors are self-employed and pay for their own office space wherever they choose to work from.

  8. Victoria Ess says:

    Thanks for the tips on what questions to ask.

  9. Eldon says:

    Very useful information!

  10. Carole D says:

    These are awesome tips!

    You know I never see tips about retirement. They’re is so much resource out there and it’s a bit confusing. There not really advertise either. You have to google.

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