How to pick a financial adviser

Get a plan in writing

You’ll want to get the plan you’ve developed with your prospective financial adviser in writing.

This document is a service agreement, not a legally binding contract, says James A. Daniel, a CFP and financial adviser with The Advisory Firm in Alpharetta, Ga.

Clients are generally free to leave at any time, as long as they don’t owe the adviser any fees for services provided up to the point of cancellation.

Before managing your money, an investment adviser is required to disclose the firm's compensation.

"Make sure that the agreement is clear and understandable. Clients should also know how much they are being charged, when the fees are due and what recourse they have if unhappy with the service," he says.

If the financial plan doesn’t meet your expectations, you may be able to get a refund.

No adviser can guarantee investment performance, however, so you have no recourse there unless the adviser does something illegal.