By now, hopefully you’ve started to search for your financial advisor, and maybe you’ve even had a chance to ask him the questions I suggested.

For me, if we sit down at the interview and any one of the following things happens, I’m wrapping up the meeting [politely] and rolling outta there quick.  If he emails or calls, I’ll let him know we “went another direction.”

These are our deal breakers.  Maybe you don’t agree with all of these, but hopefully it will give you an idea of what to watch out for.

  • If Nancy thinks the guy is sleazy, we’re gone.  I believe they call that “women’s intuition.”  Trust it.
  • If he tries to sell me something or get me to put my money into something before ensuring that I understand it, we’re gone.  I don’t want a commission-driven salesperson jerking me around from thing to thing every quarter.
  • If he talks down to Nancy or me, or talks over my head without making his best effort to make whatever he’s talking about understandable, I’m gone.  Taking the time to explain challenging concepts is one of the greatest ways a financial advisor can show you care.
  • If he’s unwilling to take the extra time necessary to explain something in a little more detail to my intelligent but less-financially-inclined wife, we’re gone.
  • If he tries to push a funky insurance product, I’m gone.  Major, major red flag.  ABORT!
  • If things get awkward when I bring up Dave Ramsey, and he can’t explain his reservations or objections to the Baby Steps without getting defensive, we’re gone.
  • If he exhibits frustration/defensiveness/fatigue with my pointed questions, we’re gone.  I want someone who is open and accessible, unafraid of having have transparent, tough conversations because literally millions of dollars are at stake.
  • If he claims to be able to move us in and out of the market to avoid it’s lows and take advantage of it’s highs, I laugh in his face and – you guessed it – I’m so gone.  Not even polite about that one.

Should he pass the gauntlet that I’ve set forth, we’ll pray about it and make a decision from there.

I wanted to share few excellent thoughts from my favorite author on the subject, Nick Murray in his outstanding book Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth on your relationship with your advisor:

The great advisors deal not in prediction and “performance,” but in planning, perspective, and behavioral coaching.  

The quality advisor…begins by learning everything he can about your hopes, dreams, goals, and financial capabilities.  Then he makes a plan with and for you… Then and only then he will build you a portfolio, based not on an economic or market outlook – which he won’t have – but on the dictates of the plan.  Finally, he will coach you – with a lot of empathy but also with a lot of tough love – past the emotional pitfalls of an investing lifetime:  The fads, fears, and misconceptions which relentlessly attack us all, year after year for the rest of our lives, not because we are unintelligent but because we are human.  (emphasis his)

I’m sure to have lots of planners and advisors jumping in on this one, and that’s cool.  I’m not a planner; I’m not certified, licensed, or degreed – but a financial coach with a little more knowledge than the average investor.  This is simply a list of the things that are important to me.

Question: What are your deal breakers when looking at prospective financial advisor candidates?  Any one of these stand out to you?