I spoke to a financial adviser who was very ‘interested in talking about himself and his finances.’ Should I run for the hills?

How can I be sure I will find a counselor who cares about me and my situation?

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Questions: I need a financial planner because I want to review my current financial situation and goals. The last one I talked to is more interested in talking about himself and his money, which is not productive. How can I make sure I find someone who cares about me and my situation? (Also looking for a financial advisor? This tool can help match you with the right advisor to meet your needs.)

Answer: Some advisors find it important for clients to know something about how they handle their own money and others strongly oppose sharing their personal information. “Often when I hear financial planners sharing personal financial information, they are selling greed rather than financial planning. This strategy is often taught as part of advanced sales techniques, often in product sales, rather than advice or a plan,” says Mark Struthers, a certified financial analyst.

And unless your advisor has bankruptcy on his record, Struthers says there’s no need to know anything about his personal finances. “The only personal financial information I can ask a CPA or financial advisor for is to look at their numbers. Other data points are very personal and have nothing to do with the reliability of the planner,” Struthers said.

Having a problem with your financial advisor or looking for information? Email [email protected]

For his part, however, Steve Stanganelli, a certified financial advisor, says it’s sometimes okay to share financial details. “Personally, I will share childcare costs from my experience when talking to clients about toddlers or newborns. I will share my experience as a home owner with those who are considering direct investment in real estate. I’ll share the pros and cons of tax planning for the self-employed with those who are or are considering self-employment. For those who are dealing with elder care or the end of their parent’s life, I will share the problems and frustrations I have had.

But, he adds, there’s a fine line between sharing useful personal tidbits and red flags to watch out for. “I think it’s a problem if advisors only talk about winning stock positions without talking about market losses,” he said. (Also looking for a financial advisor? This tool can help match you with the right advisor to meet your needs.)

Regardless of how engaging you are in sharing personal details, the bigger question is how you feel about it. And in your case, not so big, that’s why (justifiably) looking for a new advisor. “Financial planners should listen and focus on the relationships around you, not themselves,” says Danielle Miura, financial expert, from Spark Financials.

When you’re looking for a new advisor, here are 15 questions you should ask the person. And as for finding someone who cares about your situation, that’s part gut and part making sure the payment method fits your goals. “Do they charge a fair fee? Percentage of assets under management? Do they have a fiduciary duty to act in your best interest?, says Andy Rosen, chief investment officer at NerdWallet. You may want to look for a fee-only certified financial planner, as they are required to act as a fiduciary. “Knowing when your plan is getting a return on investment can also help you spot red flags,” Rosen says.

The bottom line is that if you don’t feel comfortable, take it as a sign that the moderator may not understand or care about your best interests. Rosen says, “If you have a hard time talking to your financial advisor, it’s going to be hard to talk honestly about your money, which is part of what you’re paying for. (Also looking for a financial advisor? This tool can help match you with the right advisor to meet your needs.)

Questions designed to be concise and clear.

Having a problem with your financial advisor or looking for information? Email [email protected]

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