Today's Wall Street Journal includes a special "Wealth Manager" section, the primary feature of which is "Seven Questions to Ask When Picking a Financial Adviser." The questions are generally sensible, though #2 ("What do the adviser's clients say?") can be problematic due to the prohibition on the use of client testimonials.
But here's our primary objection: Only in the last paragraph of #6 ("Can the adviser put it in writing?") does Shelly Banjo raise the fundamental question in the financial services industry: "Whether the advisers are going to take on fiduciary responsibility, in which they are legally bound to act in your best interest."
By our lights, that should be the first question, and a negative answer should pretty much make all the rest of the questions (and answers) moot.*
For more on the fiduciary difference, see this excellent discussion from the National Association of Personal Financial Advisers. And, also from NAPFA, here's an even better, more-to-the-point list of questions investors should ask of people selling financial services.
Shelly Banjo, "Seven Questions to Ask When Picking a Financial Adviser," Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2009