When choosing a financial adviser, be objective and establish criteria that are most important to you when making this selection. There are two main categories of evaluation: quantitative and qualitative.

When choosing a financial adviser, be objective and establish criteria that are most important to you when making this selection.    

There are two main categories of evaluation: quantitative and qualitative.  

For the qualitative, make sure that you like the people that you are interviewing.  If there is no chemistry and a deep trust cannot be formed, the relationship may struggle forever. Qualitative factors, such as like-mindedness, family values, community involvement or work ethic, may be factors that are important to you.  

Quantitative considerations start with intelligence. A good financial adviser is one who is able to address all of the main subjects of your financial life.  These include income and expense planning, risk management solutions, tax strategies, retirement planning, investments and estate planning. People frequently stop at one or two of these when working with a planner, and I think that is a mistake. A lifelong relationship with a planner will inevitably touch all of these subjects, and you want someone intelligent enough to recognize issues and to help resolve them before a problem arises.  

Ask about advanced designations, such as CPA, CFP and ChFC, or a relevant master's degree. I'd make sure that the leaders of the firm are the most credentialed and not merely the most persuasive. While I deem the designations relevant and important, designations without years of experience is also something to consider.   

A good salesman can easily talk the talk and sound pretty good, so ask to see an example of the documentation that the planner will provide you in each of the aspects of your financial life. If the firm is a start-up with no relevant client experience or sample plans to show, then keep looking.  

There are many entrepreneurs who are lured to the financial business because of the demographics of our aging population. With so many baby boomers expected to seek financial counseling in the next decade or two, this field may attract those who see the opportunity without the ability to do the work.   

Also inquire about the firm's ideal client. You don't want to be the firm's only or first client of a certain type. Again, beware the marketer who knows to anticipate this question, so ask for references of clients whose financial profile and objectives are similar to yours. You may even inquire about the timetable for producing financial plans to see whether they can produce a plan in the time you want.      

John P. Napolitano is the CEO of U.S. Wealth Management in Braintree.   He may be reached at jnap@uswealthcompanies.com