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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.
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.
- 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).
- 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.
- DIY. If your comfortable managing your own money you could transfer investments to an online broker and handle things yourself.
- Find a new advisor. If you want someone to guide you through the process, you’ll want to hire a new financial 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.
- 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.
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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.
- 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.
- 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.
About the Author
Ben Le Fort
Hi, my name is Ben. I am the founder of Making of a Millionaire. I have been obsessed with personal finance and learning how to manage money, ever since my parents declared bankruptcy and lost the family home to foreclosure in 2010.
I spent the next 10 years continuing my journey of educating myself about money. This education was both formal and informal.
On formal education, I earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Finance & Economics.
On the informal side, I consumed every book, video, blog post, and podcast that discussed personal finance.
Education was nice, but it wasn’t until I began implementing what I learned that I began feeling more hopeful about the future.
Before long, I had paid off my first loan. Then the next. By 2015 I was debt-free. By 2016 my wife and I bought our first house. Then we started investing. We bought another house and began building real wealth.
As our wealth grew, the memories of that family bankruptcy seemed further and further in the rear-view mirror. My stress and anxiety began to melt away and I was able to sleep at night without my mind racing and problem-solving.
By 2018 I knew it was time to start sharing what I learned about managing money and Making of a Millionaire was born.
I hope you find the articles, videos, and courses created by Making of a Millionaire to be of value to you. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you ever have feedback or questions.
You can read all of my articles on my personal site, or on Medium. If you’re interested in video-based personal finance tutorials and education, you can Subscribe to my YouTube channel or check out my in-depth personal finance course.
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.