Questions to Ask Your Financial Services Provider

Read the checklist items and select which questions you want to ask when interviewing financial service providers. If you already have a provider, identify questions you want to ask at your next meeting. 

Download the Questions to Ask Your Financial Services Provider worksheet and save it to your computer; where it’ll be readily available to use when you need it.

Determine what services are available. Ask:

What financial planning services do you or your firm offer?

What form of written plan will I get? May I see a sample financial plan?

Do you advise on specific investments; will you manage my investments for me?

Will you provide me with an investment policy statement and specify the investment fund vehicles you plan to use?

Match your needs with your planner’s qualifications, client base and expertise. Ask:

 What are your qualifications? What licenses, credentials, or other certificates do you have?

 How many clients do you have?

 Do you specialize in one type of client, such as in the accumulation phase (early or late career) or the income generation phase retired)?

 Do my assets compare to the largest, smallest or average-sized assets that you manage?

 How much experience do you have in:

 Investment planning?

 Retirement planning?

 Insurance and estate planning?

 Tax planning?

 Comprehensive financial planning?

 Regarding managing investments:

 What is your investing approach? For example:

 Investment funds, an individual stock and bond portfolio, Canadian dividend stocks

 Strategic asset allocation, long-term focus, tactical allocation

 How will you adapt your approach to match my risk profile and objectives?

 For retirees: Is tax-efficient income generation a priority? Do you focus on growth or income generation?

 If applicable: I want to be involved in making investment decisions. Can you accommodate me?

Regarding fees and transparency, ask:

 Do you provide a written client engagement letter?

 If you sell financial products, which products are you licensed to sell?

 How do you charge for your services and how much? Are you going to charge me a fee and receive commissions from brokers or fund dealers for placing my money with them?

 Is there any relationship between your company and the investment vehicles you are recommending? Are you objective and how can I be sure?

 What are the administration and termination charges associated with the investments you are suggesting?

For due diligence, ask:

 Which financial institution is the trustee in this case?

 Do you carry any liability insurance?

 Can you provide me with client references?

 Regarding investments:

 Do you follow a structured process when investing and managing my money?

 To whom do you report and who is monitoring how you invest and manage my money?

 Are my cash deposits backed by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund, the Canadian Deposit Investor Fund or Assuris?

 What kind of independent research does your company do?

Ask about investment management implementation and monitoring. Ask:

 Can you tailor your investment recommendations to integrate investments I hold in my employer’s retirement savings plan?

 Can you show me the fee and historical after-fee return on each investment you are recommending?

 Will you measure my performance against benchmarks?

 What benchmarks will you use to evaluate my portfolio?

Ask about service expectations:

 How often will my affairs be reviewed and what will be the format for those reviews

 How often will we meet (quarterly/annually/ad hoc)?

 Will I be working with you or with members of your team?

 How often will we review my investment goals and objectives?

 Will you prepare a financial plan for me? How often will it be updated (every year/every five years/upon request)?

 What backup is available if you are away?

 When are you planning on retiring? Do you have a succession plan in place?