How to Fire Your Financial Advisor in 4 Simple Steps

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One of the most important financial decisions we make is who we take financial advice from. This is especially important if you are paying for financial advice. What do you do if you are getting bad advice and how do you fire a financial advisor?

As someone who writes about money, there is nothing more important than going out into the real world and talking to actual people about money. It’s very easy to get trapped in our writer’s bubble in the personal finance community where we enjoy nerding-out over very advanced financial topics.

Most people in the real world are not thinking about house-hacking or how to retire in 10-years. Real people have more fundamental concerns about money.

When the Question Is “How” Not “If”

Over Christmas, I was back home in Nova Scotia and had the chance to catch up with a lot of people I had not seen in quite some time. During one of those conversations, the topic of money came up (as it tends to when someone is speaking with me) and one person said they would love my advice on a financial problem that has been stressing them out.

“How do I fire my financial advisor?”

This person did not want to know if they “should” fire their financial advisor. They were quite clear on the fact that the advisor needed to be fired. What they wanted to know was “how” to do it. They were looking for a step-by-step on how to fire their financial advisor and what to do with their money afterward.

I had to admit that I have no experience with the issue as I have always self-managed my finances. The more I thought about it the more clear it became why this is a stressful issue for people.

The power dynamic in an advisor-advisee relationship is tilted heavily towards the advisor. The advisor is the expert on financial matters, that is why you hired them. This can make it very difficult for some people to challenge their advisors or even ask questions about what the advisor is doing with their money.

This is an important issue and providing a detailed answer would provide tremendous value to my readers. I’ve been researching this question the past several weeks and I am pleased to present this brief guide to firing your financial advisor.

How to Fire Your Financial Advisor in 4 Simple Steps

There are four steps you need to take before actually firing your advisor.

Step 1: Review Your Contract

When you first hired your financial advisor, you likely had to sign a bunch of paperwork. Read through these documents carefully as there is likely a clause about how to terminate the relationship with the advisor.

If you can’t find the contract ask your advisor or their administrative assistant for a copy of your contract. There are two particularly important sections of that contract.

  1. Instructions on how to terminate the relationship. Often you are required to provide the advisor a signed letter formally terminating the relationship (more on that in a minute).
  2. Fees. Often there is a termination fee or other fees involved in terminating your relationship with the advisor and pulling your money out. These fees may be charged by the advisor themselves, the investment funds they have you in or both. It’s critical to ensure you are aware of what those fees are before you fire your advisor.

Step 2: Decide What You’re Going to Do Next

Before you fire your advisor, it’s a good idea to know what you’re going to do with your money going forward.

You have three options to consider.

  1. DIY. If your comfortable managing your own money you could transfer investments to an online broker and handle things yourself.
  2. Find a new advisor. If you want someone to guide you through the process, you’ll want to hire a new advisor you can trust. I suggest looking at a “fee-only” financial advisor. Fee-only advisors charge a predetermined price to provide you financial advice. This is the best way to get unbiased advice as fee-only advisors do not have a financial incentive to put your money in a certain fund or sell you insurance.
  3. Robo-advisors. These are a good alternative for people who aren’t quite comfortable managing their investments themselves but aren’t in a position to pay the upfront costs of a fee-only advisor.

Do your homework and choose the path you are most comfortable with moving forward.

Step 3: Request a Copy of Your Investment Records

The final step before firing your advisor is to request a copy of your investment records. You have a right to these files which have valuable information on your investing history.

Step 4: Fire Your Advisor

It’s finally time to fire your advisor. Refer back to your contract with your advisor as it likely details the exact process that must be followed to terminate the relationship. Odds are you will be required to provide the advisor with a signed letter. You have two options to deliver this letter.

  1. If you are working with a new advisor. Let them handle the uncomfortable part of firing your previous advisor. They will likely provide you with a few forms to sign and might be able to handle the rest with your old advisor.
  2. If you’re handling your finances moving forward. Be sure to follow the termination instructions in your contract. Include all the necessary information in a letter to your advisor, but keep it brief and professional. You don’t owe them a lengthy explanation and a quick, clean break is in everyone’s best interest.

If you have a financial salesperson rather than an advisor, be prepared for them to try and talk you out of leaving. Do not feel compelled to engage in a “retention pitch”.

Make it clear your decision is final and stick to the business at hand, the transfer of your assets and all the necessary paperwork.

Breakups are never easy, situations involving the heart or the wallet can be very stressful and emotionally draining. It’s important to do your homework so that you can make the break as clean and painless as possible.

Have you ever fired a financial advisor? Or are you a financial advisor who has ever been fired? I’d be fascinated to hear your experience in the comments below.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.

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