Financial advisors also see red flags when a prospective client has strong opinions about what to invest in or insists on using a copy of a popular personal finance magazine with the latest hot funds on the cover as an investment blueprint. "We need to be the initiator of decisions because ultimately, we are the ones responsible for them," says Martin. "If I see in an interview that someone will be micromanaging and second-guessing every decision, I emphasize how much control and discretion we have managing their money. That sometimes sends them in another direction."

Martin is also wary of individuals who bad-mouth their former advisors excessively or have had a series of broken advisor relationships. "If a client takes some responsibility for a mistake and says it's time to move on, that's one thing," says Martin. "But if he's very bitter and puts all the blame on the old advisor and none on himself, that's another."

Unrealistic expectations are another danger sign. "If someone comes in and starts talking about achieving ridiculous rates of return or has unrealistic expectations about what I can achieve, I'll refer him to someone else," says Lou Stanasolovich, CFP, Legend Financial Advisors in Pittsburgh.

Regardless of the reasons behind a breakup, financial advisors should never feel guilty about severing client ties when they want to change the way they do business or when irresolvable differences arise. "It's not about firing people," says Little. "It's about setting standards and sticking to them."

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