We’ve all experienced that awful feeling of knowing we’re in the wrong relationship and that we need to end it as soon as possible. Though most of us have been in that position in a romantic relationship, it can be just as difficult to go through this with a professional partner—especially one who is as important to your future as a financial advisor. A great financial planner should act as a mentor as well as an advisor and should always prioritize you and your needs. Unfortunately, not all advisors fit this bill or you may have found one who is good at his or her job but who just doesn’t fit with your values or personality. If you’ve realized it’s time to move on, it’s important to take action quickly and decisively so your finances and future planning don’t take a hit while you’re on the fence. Here are some tips on how to tell your planner it’s time to go your separate ways.

Know Exactly Why

If you’re not sure why you want to leave your financial planner, you probably aren’t ready to make the break. It’s important to understand (and communicate) why you are ready to leave and what you expect to find that’s different in your new advisor. It could be the simple fact that you want to work with an advice-based planner rather than one who is commission-based, or it could be due to a lack of customer service or even the fact that you personally don’t like or can’t get along with your planner. In some cases, you and your spouse may disagree on whether or not you should continue working with your planner, and you may need to compromise on one you both feel comfortable with. The point is, you need to know exactly why you’re leaving or you may make a mistake.

Be Honest

Once you’ve identified why you want to dump your financial advisor, it’s time to tell them the truth. No, you should not just leave a message or try to do everything through their assistant so you don’t have to confront them with the news. You also shouldn’t fudge the truth. You have every right to change planners for whatever reason you want, and you don’t need to justify yourself. When you’re honest, you feel good about your integrity and you also give the planner a chance to improve him or herself if the issue is something they’ve done wrong. You don’t need to be argumentative or make the conversation uncomfortable. You simply need to state your reasons in a clear and concise manner and request your information be transferred to your new advisor.

Have a Replacement

Speaking of your new advisor, you should already have one chosen before you cut ties with your old one. Going without a financial advisor after a bad break-up may seem like a good idea at the time, but it’s a mistake. Not having a fiduciary who can help you plan, challenge you to be a better money manager, and ensure your estate and retirement is on track puts you at a disadvantage. Your new advisor should fill the gaps that you felt your relationship with your prior advisor had, which is one of the reasons why it’s so important to know why you wanted to make a change. Your new advisor can also help make the transition process smoother as he or she can take on the task of getting accounts and information transferred over once you’ve made the change.

Just as with any relationship in your personal or professional life, sometimes things just don’t work out with your financial planner. If you’re honest with yourself and with your advisor, you can make a positive change that will end up benefiting everyone involved.

Do you have a question or comment about switching advisors? Please leave it in the comment section below!


Patrick Tucker, the owner of True Measure Wealth Management, has over 20 years experience in the industry and has spent the last 15 years learning the ins and outs of the fee-only advisory business. He focuses on client behaviors and what ‘wealth’ means for each individual client to provide care-giving plans that lead to a mindful fulfillment of financial goals. A lifelong learner, Patrick uses his continued knowledge to become a valued partner for his clients and help them explore the wisdom of true wealth.