There is an increasing push towards more regulation in the financial adviser space, and rightfully so! Far too often Canadians look to ‘the experts’ for help and find out months or even years down the line that the investments that were suggested to them don’t fit their risk profile at all. Financial advisers have recently received a ton of backlash, employees feel forced to sell to unknowing customers, just to hit their sales targets. With the media blowing up about these advisers Canadians seem unsure of who to turn to. Financial advisers can be a great asset to your wealth building team, but you have to be able to find the right one! To do so, while tedious, it’s important to interview a number of advisers to find the one that is the right fit for you.

Here are seven questions you can ask your financial adviser:

  1. What types of investments do you put your client’s money into? Understanding whether your adviser invests in stocks, bonds, index funds, ETFs, or mutual funds can have bearing on the returns you’ll see and what type of risk you’re comfortable taking on. While you don’t need to be an expert on any of the above, it’s important to know what they mean for your investment portfolio.
  2. Typically, what type of returns do you see for your clients?Some advisers will say this depends, which is totally understandable, but they should be able to give you a ballpark or average for the past number of years.
  3. How are you compensated?A touchy subject, but an important question none the less. Understanding how your adviser is paid is one of the most important things. How they are compensated could dictate what they invest your money in. For example, some advisers are compensated based on the number or type of fund they sell. If this is the case they could push a fund on you that is more expensive to you, benefitting them. Fee-only financial advisers are typically the way to go.
  4. When you retire what are your succession plans?Some advisers are older than others, and if you’re a millennial there is a good chance you’re going to live longer than your adviser stays employed. It’s important to ask this so that you know your money will be in good hands after your adviser steps away from work.
  5. What is your investment approach and how do you decide what a good investment for a client might be?Understanding how your adviser chooses their investments is important even if you don’t understand it all. Asking the question, writing down their answers and doing some of your own research after the fact can be a great way to determine if they align with your investment values.
  6. How often do you contact your clients?If you’re the type of person that gets nervous when you hear about the swings in the stock market it will be important for you to have access to your financial adviser. A follow-up question to this might be what method of communication they prefer.
  7. Will I have access to my investment account online?This may not be a big one for some people, but for myself, I like to be able to check on my investments monthly. Some people are perfectly content with receiving their quarterly statements but I need to be able to see what’s going on.For people who don’t want to actively manage their investments, an adviser can be a great way to go. Even if they are a touch more expensive than purchasing your own portfolio many advisers come with perks such as financial planning on an individual level.
ATB is one of my favourite financial institutions in Alberta for the sole purpose that they genuinely try to provide correct and helpful information to their clients, and the public at large. Check out their Investor Services’ declaration to Albertans. They also provide answers to Four Key Questions you should always ask your advisor. 

ATB will also be hosting a Facebook Live chat on Thursday, May 25 at 12:30 p.m. MT with their Investor Services President, Chris Turchansky. He’ll be able to answer any questions you have about investing and the industry.


This post was sponsored by ATB Investor Services, however, all opinions are my own.