Questions to ask a financial adviser

It's impossible to ask too many questions.

Asking questions can help counter the situation of an adviser assuming you know something when you don't.

Small details can mean a lot.

Asking questions is a great way to assess your and your adviser's knowledge. Importantly, this process reveals much more about an adviser than just the content of their answers. The way an adviser goes about answering a question can reveal their wider personality, style and attitude, and whether you can work with them.

Following are some useful questions, some of which are drawn from the Australian Securities and Investment Commission's (ASIC) Moneysmart website, to help you find the right financial adviser.

Financial qualifications and experience

Q. What is your overall experience as a financial adviser?

Q. Why did you decide to become a financial adviser?

Q. What are your qualifications? How long did it take you to get them?

Q. Who holds your Australian financial services (AFS) licence?

Q. Are you authorised to provide advice on the products you are recommending to me?

Q. Can you advise on my current products?

Q. Are you a member of any industry associations and/or professional bodies?

Queries and concerns

Q. If I accept this advice, who do I speak to if I have any questions or concerns about my investments?

Q. How are my investments monitored, and what information will I receive?

Q. How many clients do you have?

Q. Can you really service that many clients?

Financial advice fees

Q. How are you paid?

Q. How much is your advice likely to cost?

Q. Can you give me a breakdown of the costs?

Q. If I agree to ongoing advice, what will I get for my fees?

Q. Are your fees paid annually or monthly?

Q. Can I have a copy of your fee schedule?

Q. What do I do if I've been paying ongoing advice fees but haven't received an ongoing service?

Q. How can I stop paying your ongoing advice fees if I decide I no longer want advice from you?

Q. Are there any penalties or notice periods I need to be aware of?

Q. Are there any other fees or charges such as service, implementation or administration fees that you haven't told me about?

Q. Do you get paid for selling me a product?

Q. Do you get any other benefits such as gifts or bonuses?

Q. If I dispute the fees, what process do you have in place to address my concerns?

Financial products and sales incentives

Q. Do you only advise on in-house products? If so, how do you make sure another product is not a better option for me?

Q. What fees or other benefits do you receive for referring me to another person or business?

Q. Are you, or this financial advice business, associated with the people or businesses you're referring me to?

Did they consider your insurance needs?

Q. Are you taking advantage of insurance products that may help you to continue meeting your needs and objectives if you fall ill or have an accident and can't work?

Q. Is my life insurance sufficient?

Q. Do I need any life insurance "riders"?

Q. Do I need income protection insurance?

Q. Do I need trauma insurance?

Q. Do I need total and permanent disability insurance?

Q. Have I considered the costs and benefits of insurance inside and outside superannuation?

Q. If I do switch my insurance provider will I still get the same cover?

Q. I have a pre-existing condition. Will it affect my cover?

Q. Can you explain how the premiums are paid inside the superannuation environment?

Q. Is there a chance I might not be eligible for the insurance cover I want inside superannuation?

What to look for in financial advice

Q. What are the risks of this investment in the short or long term?

Q. How will any financial losses be covered if the investment doesn't generate the expected returns?

Q. How is this investment consistent with my goals?

Q. If I change to the investment you recommend, what will I lose?

Additional services

Q. If I need legal or taxation advice beyond your areas of advice, do you have a solicitor or accountant you would recommend?

Q. Where can I see or monitor the investments you have recommended?

Q. What kind of platform do you provide?

 Using financial planning checklists
 Getting ready for the first meeting with a financial adviser