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Working with a Financial Professional

What do I need to know?

At a minimum, your advisor should hold the CFP® designation. Individuals who have been authorized to use the CFP® certification have met rigorous professional standards and have agreed to adhere to the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence when dealing with clients.

To help ensure that your CFP® acts in your best interest, insist that s/he act as fiduciary and put that pledge in writing. Below you will find a printable Fiduciary pledge, questions to ask a planner, and where to find a fiduciary planner. 

Fiduciary pledge

Finally, you should have your advisor sign a fiduciary pledge stating that he or she will put your financial interests above his or her own. Download a printable version of our Fiduciary Pledge (PDF) to take with you to your planner interviews.

Interviewing planners

It is strongly recommended that you interview at least three planners. We have created a questionnaire to help you in this process. You may also download a printable version of this 403bwise Advisor Questionnaire (PDF).

  1. What is your educational background?
  2. What is your CRD (Central Registration Depository) number?
  3. What financial credentials do you hold?
  4. What is your financial planning education?
  5. How did you become a financial advisor?
  6. How long have you been offering financial services?
  7. What state and/or national oversight agencies are you registered with?
  8. How many hours of continuing education do you take each year?
  9. How many clients do you currently serve?
  10. Will I work directly with you?
  11. How do you educate your clients about the investment process and their specific portfolio?
  12. Explain how you will diversify my portfolio.
  13. What is your investment philosophy?
  14. Please detail all fees or commission involved, including all costs of mutual funds or variable annuity sub accounts.
  15. How will my plan be implemented?
  16. How often will we meet?
  17. Please include any fees related to closing an account (i.e. surrender or back-end charges.)
  18. Please provide me with a written agreement that details services that will be provided.
  19. Please provide in writing your pledge to act as fiduciary on my behalf.
  20. How are you compensated?

Find an Advisor

Sources for finding and researching an advisor: XY Planning Network, Garrett Planning Network, The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.


Finding the Right Advisor Tips for finding an advisor that will work with your interests in mind

In recent episodes of our podcast, Dan interviews fiduciary planners Scott Dauenhauer CFP® and Breanna Reish CFP® about how a planner can help teachers. In Episode 86: Part One we look at helping the new teacher, and helping the mid-career teacher. Episode 87: Part Two covers how a planner can help a teacher approaching retirement. We also discuss planner compensation.