Smart – Selection: Choosing a Wealth Advisor Using Behavioral Interviewing Techniques

Jon M. Ekoniak, CFP® | February 3, 2023

Interviewing a financial advisor can be overwhelming; almost all advisory firms promise that at their firm, clients come first, and they are dedicated to helping their clients optimize their financial situation. As a consumer, how can you be sure that’s true? When you are selecting an advisor, how can you ensure you are asking the right questions that will elicit an accurate view of their capabilities? After all, this is a major decision that impacts you, your family, and your financial well-being.

Enter the behavioral based interview. Behavioral based interviews analyze a candidate’s (or in this case an advisor’s) potential abilities by examining skills that have been used in their past job performance. The main difference between this type of interviewing and a regular interview is that individuals are asked to provide specific examples of how they performed (behaved) in the past, instead of being asked to share their opinions or ideas about a hypothetical situation. Put another way: this type of interview assumes that a candidate’s past behavior is the best predictor of their future performance.

Some studies have demonstrated that behavioral based interviewing yields candidates with better future job performance and therefore potentially reduced attrition. While these types of interviews have roots in the medical field as well as modern HR practices, the behavioral based interview style can be applied to a variety of scenarios – including the selection of a qualified wealth advisor.

Consider the following: there are many important factors in selecting the right wealth advisor, including their level of tax expertise, education, certifications, and overall credentials, their investment offering and strategy, how comprehensive their understanding of wealth advisory is, and their service ethic. Someone looking for a new advisor might simply ask a Yes / No question confirming that the advisor meets these criteria, but in doing so they are limited to the advisor’s word, which could be biased toward completing the sale. For example, if you play football once a year on Thanksgiving with your family, does that make you a football player? If an advisor helped one client with their estate plan two years ago, can they claim to help clients with estate planning? If an advisor executes tax-loss harvesting trades for their clients, does that make them a tax-efficient advisor? One should be wary of claims and marketing materials and ask questions that will help one understand what an advisor is truly capable of doing and what they will likely do for you.

Tweaking interview questions using a behavioral technique may provide buyers a clearer picture of how effective the advisor will be for them.

To assist you, Bordeaux has some assembled key questions we recommend individuals and families ask their potential wealth advisor versus standard interview questions. Click here to view our complete Behavioral Interviewing Guide for Selecting a Wealth Advisor. We encourage you to use behavioral interviewing to help determine whether a potential advisor can provide the expertise and service you need.


The material has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however BWA cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source. To determine which investments or planning strategies may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor or other industry professional prior to investing or implementing a planning strategy. This article is not intended to provide tax or legal advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such. To determine which tax planning strategies may be appropriate for you, consult your tax advisor. Investment Advisory services are offered through Bordeaux Wealth Advisors, LLC. Advisory services are only offered where Bordeaux and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered unless a client agreement is in place.