You’ve probably scoped the web and asked your family and friends who they turn to. Good start.  Scary thing is that anyone can call themselves a financial advisor… from the commission-hungry stockbrokers, insurance agents and even your local banker. Understand that some of these individuals may be the real deal, but hate to break it to you, not all of them are. First rule of thumb:

1. What are their credentials?

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP®. They advise their clients on how best to save, invest and manage their money. They’re credentialed, regulated and take mandatory classes on different aspects of financial planning—in addition to meeting continuing education requirements.

Certified Public Accountant, CPA.  They not only understand the consistently changing tax rules and know how to calculate your taxes but, in our case, speak the same language as your accountant so work fluently with them. Accounting knowledge is an advantage in creating an all-encompassing financial plan. CPAs are also licensed, regulated and must meet continuing education requirements.

 Other credentials that you may come across include:

  • Charter Financial Consultant (ChFC)
  • Certified Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
  • Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
  • Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)

2. How do they get paid for their work and advice?

Commissions Based Planning – you pay a commission when you buy and sell. The advisor has an incentive to keep you trading. Commission based planning only requires investments to be suitable.

Fee Based Planning – Ask whether they follow the…

“Fiduciary standard” – requires the advisor act in your best interest in addition to ensure your investments are suitable. Fiduciaries must provide you with their form ADV that discloses any conflicts of interest, their background and fee structure.

“Suitability standard” – means that the product(s) used in your portfolio are appropriate for your net worth and risk tolerance.


3. Ask the right questions, even if it puts them on the spot

 After exploring their credentials, experience and how they get paid… Here are a few questions to help make your decision:

  1. Will you prepare a comprehensive written financial plan? If so, is there a charge?
  2. Does the advisor ask you good questions, such as to view your tax return, understand your money history and your expectations for the relationship?
  3. Does the advisor present their expectations and process?
  4. How many clients do they serve? Are they over-extended?
  5. How long have they been in business and how has business changed over the years?
  6. Is your advisor involved in your community?
  7. Do you feel comfortable that you’re being heard and that the advisor “gets” your priorities and risk tolerance?
  8. Do they care about you as a person?
  9. Do they work as individuals or a team?


Finding the perfect advisor is not random. Make sure they are a good fit by ensuring they meet the highest standard of service and have great chemistry with you. The relationship with your advisor should be an equally beneficial, long-term friendship.


Reach out to the advisors at AEGIS Financial to see if we’d be a good fit for you!

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Raymond James.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP(R), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in
the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements. Investment Management Consultants Association® (IMCA®) is the owner of the certification mark “CIMA®” “Certified Investment Management Analyst®”. Use signifies that the user has successfully completed IMCA’s initial and ongoing credentialing requirements for certification.