What to look for in a money professional

Many people realize they should seek assistance from a professional to advise them when it comes to money, both to make their lives easier now, and to better help them plan for the future. Many of those same people, however, shy away from the following through because of things they’ve heard, something they imagine, or simply, details they don’t understand. Let’s start by dispelling a few myths.

Myth # 1 – Everyone needs to work with a money professional.

This is simply not true. Not everyone needs a money professional in their lives. I emphasize everyone because, although it is true that some people can get by just fine on their own, the list is small. For those who have what it takes, managing their own finances can yield incredible results.

To work with your money all on your own, without any help, requires tremendous discipline. Not only to put in the time to do the work taking care of your finances requires, but to remain objective, taking on the role of accountability partner to pull you back into line and to change course when you inevitably trip up.


Myth # 2 – All money professionals only care about themselves.

This is also not true. I have worked with and met some fantastic money professionals who truly care about the people they work with. Unfortunately, as with anything in life, a few bad apples have spoiled the reputation of the whole bunch.

In my experience, the more effort you put into a relationship with a good money professional, the more they will go out of their way to help you achieve better.


Now that we have those out of the way, let’s look at what you should look for when selecting a competent money manager to help you and your family achieve ‘better’ with your money.

  1. Accreditation

There are many different types and levels of accreditation when it comes to helping others manage their money. A few of the most common are CFP (Certified Financial Planner), RFP (Registered Financial Planner), PFP (Personal Financial Planner), CIM (Certified Investment Manager), and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst).

Someone you are working with doesn’t need to have all of these, or even many, but they should have one. Having at least one shows that they have a passion for their craft and are dedicated to ongoing learning to help you and your family.

  1. How have they done with others?

Do they work with any of your family members or friends? If so, ask the people you know about the service they have received and how they have enjoyed working with that particular individual.

If not, ask if they have anyone you could talk to or any client referrals you can see.

Where these options are not possible ask them to share with you their work process. How often do they communicate? What are their investment beliefs? Do they have a sample financial plan you could see?

This will give you valuable insight into how they work with others, and might work with you.

  1. You need to like them

If all goes well you will be in regular contact with your money professional, and their team. To do their jobs properly, and serve you the best they can, they will need to know a lot about you. In fact, the better they know you, the better they will succeed in helping you. And if they are going to get to know you, you will learn a lot about them as well. You need to like them, get along with them and be able to communicate on the same level as them.

Make sure you have things in common with them. Make sure they are willing to get to know you and ask the hard questions. Think of it this way – if you met this person somewhere else, could you see yourself becoming acquaintances, or even friends? If so, you’ve definitely found your helper.

  1. You need to like the environment they work in

Do they work in an office; a bank? Do they come to your home? Are they across town? What are the working hours? Whatever the case, make sure it suits you.

You could find the best person in the world, but if they are a hassle to meet with or you don’t feel that the environment they are working in is a good fit for you, then you won’t meet with them as often as you should. And that will directly impact your work with them.

  1. Are there any red flags?

Pay attention and look for any red flags that may come up. Do they provide suitable answers to your questions? Are they able to break things down in a way that you easily understand? Do the staff look happy and well trained?

If you notice anything that seems off, ask about it. If they can’t give you a proper answer, or one that quells your fears, that is an answer in itself and may be telling you to find someone else.

  1. Do they have a succession plan?

A succession plan is critical when it comes to working with an advisor who might be approaching retirement age, but even if you are working with someone who is younger, find out what plans they have in place should something happen to them. You want to know that you will be taken care of and not left in limbo while others try to figure something out because the advisor didn’t.


Remember, you want to do your homework and get this right the first time. If you do, you should not have to do it again for quite some time, if at all. And if you think you need to work with more than one person, it is because you haven’t found the right person yet, so keep looking.

Note: You can use this IIROC search to find information on your advisor.


Wade Bedard, CIM®

HollisWealth, a Division of Industrial Alliance Securities Inc.

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