PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

Deciding to hire a financial adviser can be a tough decision for many individuals. There are about 310,000 financial advisers in the United States. If that’s not confusing enough, there are more than 200 designations: financial consultants, wealth managers, financial advisers, investment consultants, wealth advisers, to name just a few.

With all of this in mind, finding a trustworthy financial adviser can seem like an impossible task. So how do you determine exactly whom to trust with your financial decisions? So how can you tell one financial adviser from another?

The good news is that you don’t need to know the differences between all of the designations and titles of financial advisers to choose one. You just need to know what to ask them. Whether you are thinking about hiring your first financial adviser, or are considering working with a new adviser, it is important to interview every financial adviser you meet with to help ensure that they have your best interest in mind. And that means asking the right questions.

The following 12 questions can help determine if a financial adviser is looking out for your best interest. You can ask a financial adviser these questions at your first meeting or send them in advance so he or she is ready to address them when you meet. The adviser should provide his/her answers to each question in writing:

1. Are you legally required to always do what is in my best interest?

2. What is your investment philosophy?

3. How will you determine my asset allocation?

4. How often will my investment accounts be reviewed and rebalanced?

5. Will my money be invested in actively managed funds or Index Funds?

6. How much will my mutual-fund fees and expenses cost in actual dollars?

7. Are you a fee-only, fee-based or a commission-based financial adviser?

8. How much is your investment management fee?

9. Can you receive commissions?

10. How do I pay for your services?

11. Will you be creating an investment policy statement for me?

12. Have you ever been disciplined for illegal or unethical behavior?

You should never feel guilty or intimidated about asking these questions. Whenever I meet with a potential new client, I tell them right up front that any all questions they have for me are “fair game.” The bottom line is that a financial adviser works you, and you have the right to ask these questions, and every financial adviser should have no problem answering them.

If you’re not completely satisfied with the answers you receive or don’t receive, don’t hesitate to keep searching.

After all, there are still another 309,999 financial advisers to choose from.

Martin Krikorian, is President of Capital Wealth Management, a “Fee-Only” registered investment adviser located at 9 Billerica Road, Chelmsford MA. He is the author of the investment books, “10 Chapters to Having a Successful Investment Portfolio” and the “7 Steps to Becoming a Better Investor.” Martin can be reached at (978) 244-9254, Capital Wealth Managements website; www.capitalwealthmngt.com, or via email at, info@capitalwealthmngt.com.