As a financial advisor, it can get tricky to have testimonials or client reviews. In fact: it is not only tricky, it is against federal regulation. There is a federal regulatory agency called SEC, and SEC disallows anybody who provides fee-based financial planning or wealth management to receive client reviews. When looking for a financial advisor, this is why you cannot find any online reviews. It is not because their clients don't want to offer them, but rather because they cannot receive them.
One way to work around this is to ask the financial advisor you are interviewing to put you in touch with another client of theirs. When I receive this question, I provide three different clients that have different financial needs. I let my client know they will receive a call and that they should provide their honest review of what I do and our work together. If the financial advisor doesn't want to provide you with client contact information, that could be a red flag. Receiving public reviews is not allowed, but a client interview is permissible according to SEC standards.
One big reason reviews are not allowed is because each client experience, portfolio and rate of return varies widely. In addition, the standard statement in our field: “Prior performance does not guarantee future performance,” means that a testimonial could state that their portfolio did well, but that doesn’t guarantee any future return. It can get tricky when it comes to wealth management as no one can guarantee returns. If you talk to somebody and they say they can guarantee you 5, 10, 15% a year, they are violating SEC rules.
At the end of the day, no financial advisor can receive reviews so it does not put one advisor at an unfair advantage. No financial advisor can receive reviews regardless of whether they're an independent advisor like myself, an employee advisor, or work within an advisor group. It can certainly become cumbersome when you are trying to tell a client story without making it a testimonial, but I find that receiving referrals is a huge testimonial to my work - especially if I didn’t request it. Even though I can't take reviews online or publish testimonials, I CAN receive referrals -- so send them my way!