How to Find a Financial Advisor You Can Trust, Part 2

Fiduciaries and getting advisor recommendations

Figuring out how to find a financial advisor you can trust is a major step in setting yourself up for long-term financial success and creating peace of mind. Trust and value go hand in hand. With a trustworthy personal financial advisor on your side, you should be better prepared to make well-informed decisions and manage your wealth successfully throughout every stage of life.

A recent CFA Institute survey revealed that the more a financial advisor is able to recommend products that align with a client’s values, the more likely the client is to trust their advisor.1 This makes sense because humans inherently tend to fear what they don’t know. While trust is earned over time, you still need to find a financial advisor you can trust today.

In this second blog post of a two-part series, we consider whether a fiduciary might be right for your circumstances, plus we discuss effective ways of obtaining advisor referrals.

Consider choosing a fiduciary

You want to choose a financial advisor who puts your interests first. That sounds obvious, but unfortunately, it isn’t always the case. Avoid any potential conflicts of interest by understanding an advisor’s motivations and incentives. Finding out how they get paid and why they recommend certain investments is a great starting point when selecting the right advisor for you.

One way to be sure your advisor avoids conflicts of interest is to limit your search to financial advisors who are held to a fiduciary standard rather than those held only to a suitability standard. A fiduciary has a legal obligation to put your interests ahead of their own and to reduce any conflicts of interest.2 In contrast, a suitability standard simply ensures that a recommended product is suitable based on the information you provided about your financial situation and goals.3

To be clear, a registered investment advisor is a fiduciary, whereas a broker or insurance agent is not.4 There are a few unique requirements that come along with the fiduciary standard, and we think they could make a big difference in what to expect from your financial advisor, including:

  • Disclosure: When there is a conflict of interest or an incentive to recommend a particular product, a fiduciary must provide disclosure.5
  • Duty of care: There is both an ethical and legal duty to the client, which requires advisors to make decisions in good faith and a reasonably prudent manner.6
  • Duty of loyalty: This requires an advisor to be completely loyal to the client at all times and imposes the responsibility to avoid possible conflicts of interest.7

Where to find advisor recommendations

If you’re starting from scratch or coming from an unsatisfactory experience with a financial advisor at another firm, you may be wondering where to find an advisor you can trust. Many people naturally reach out to their network of family and friends to solicit recommendations. This can be a good starting point since you can get direct feedback on an advisor’s track record and client service. Plus, you may share similar values and preferences as family members and those within your social circle.

However, keep in mind that your financial needs might not mirror those of your family and friends. For instance, you may need to look for a financial advisor with proven experience in managing private wealth or more complicated business or financial structures.

Another potential source of recommendations is other trusted financial professionals. Your CPA, for example, likely has a strong understanding of your financials and may be able to match you with an advisor from their network of contacts who is appropriately experienced in the areas you need.

Also, remember to vet potential advisors using client referrals. While it’s not the only thing you should care about, speaking to existing clients can give you an idea of what to expect. You can ask a potential financial advisor for client referrals to get an idea of their strengths. Talking to clients with similar financial circumstances as yours is often valuable. It may also help to conduct an online search of prospective advisors to see what qualitative comments you might find. Just remember to take any comments with a grain of salt since they can be overly biased—positively or negatively.

Bottom line

Choosing a fiduciary financial advisor whom you can trust takes some research and considerable legwork, but in our view, it’s worth the time and effort. Not only might you enjoy greater peace of mind that your investments are well looked after, but conducting due diligence and finding the right advisor for your particular needs might also help you gain more confidence in your financial plan—and in your ability to reach your long-term financial goals.


Read Part 1 of this series now: Getting to know prospective advisors




Jake Erlendson, CPA, CFP

Jake Erlendson, CPA, CFP

Partner, Wealth Advisor

Jake is a Partner, Wealth Advisor in Corient’s San Diego office. He is dedicated to serving clients and delivering personalized investment and financial planning advice. Jake joined legacy firm Dowling & Yahnke (D&Y) in 2006.  He played an integral role in the development of D&Y’s Portfolio Management and Analytics Group and served on the Investment Committee. Jake holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP) designations. He graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. Jake grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, but has called San Diego home for over 20 years.  He currently resides in Poway with his wife and two children.


This information is for educational purposes and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax, insurance, or investment advice.  This does not constitute an offer to provide any services, nor a solicitation to purchase securities. The contents are not intended to be advice tailored to any particular person or situation. We believe the information provided is accurate and reliable, but do not warrant it as to completeness or accuracy.  This information may include opinions or forecasts, including investment strategies and economic and market conditions; however, there is no guarantee that such opinions or forecasts will prove to be correct, and they also may change without notice.  We encourage you to speak with a qualified professional regarding your scenario and the then-current applicable laws and rules.

Advisory services are offered through Corient Private Wealth LLC and its affiliates, each being a registered investment adviser (“RIA”) regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).  The advisory services are only offered in jurisdictions where the RIA is appropriately registered.  The use of the term “registered” does not imply any particular level of skill or training and does not imply any approval by the SEC. For a complete discussion of the scope of advisory services offered, fees, and other disclosures, please review the RIA’s Disclosure Brochure (Form ADV Part 2A) and Form CRS, available upon request from the RIA and online at We also encourage you to review the RIA’s Privacy Policy and Code of Ethics, which are available upon request.

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