Fact-Finding Interview

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on July 11, 2023

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What Is a Fact-Finding Interview?

A fact-finding interview in finance is a process where an interviewer collects information from a client about their financial situation, including their goals, risk tolerance, and investment experience.

The interview is conducted to understand the client's financial needs, so that the advisor can recommend the most appropriate financial products and services to help the client meet their goals.

The interview may cover a range of topics, such as income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and investment preferences. The information gathered during the fact-finding interview is used to create a personalized financial plan that is tailored to the client's specific needs and objectives.

Preparation for Fact-Finding Interviews

Identifying Objectives and Scope

The first step in preparing for a fact-finding interview is to define the objectives and scope of the interview. Determine the specific information you need and how it relates to your overall financial project or investigation. This clarity helps ensure that the interview stays focused and efficient.

Researching the Interviewee and Organization

Before conducting the interview, research the interviewee and their organization. Understand their role, responsibilities, and expertise to tailor your questions accordingly. Familiarizing yourself with their background can also help establish rapport during the interview.

Developing a List of Relevant Questions

Create a list of relevant questions to guide the interview. Prioritize open-ended questions that encourage the interviewee to provide detailed answers, and supplement these with more specific, closed-ended questions as needed.

Organize your questions logically, and be prepared to adjust them as the conversation unfolds.

Scheduling and Logistics

Coordinate with the interviewee to schedule a suitable time and location for the interview. Ensure that the chosen setting is comfortable, quiet, and free from distractions to facilitate open communication.

Conducting the Fact-Finding Interview

Establishing Rapport With the Interviewee

Begin the interview by introducing yourself and establishing rapport with the interviewee. This can help put them at ease and foster a more open and honest conversation.

Explaining the Purpose and Format of the Interview

Clearly communicate the purpose and format of the interview to the interviewee. Provide an overview of the topics you plan to discuss and any confidentiality or legal considerations.

Utilizing Effective Questioning Techniques

Open-Ended Questions

Use open-ended questions to encourage the interviewee to provide in-depth responses. These questions often begin with "how," "why," or "tell me about," and allow for a more comprehensive exploration of the topic at hand.

Probing Questions

Probing questions help you delve deeper into a specific area or clarify the interviewee's responses. These questions often follow an open-ended question and focus on specific details, examples, or explanations.

Closed-Ended Questions

Closed-ended questions typically require a "yes" or "no" answer or a specific piece of information. Use these questions judiciously to confirm details or narrow down a topic.

Active Listening and Note-Taking

As the interview progresses, practice active listening and take detailed notes. This enables you to accurately capture the interviewee's responses and identify any areas that require further clarification.

Addressing Confidentiality and Legal Considerations

Ensure that both you and the interviewee are aware of any confidentiality or legal considerations that may apply. This includes discussing any non-disclosure agreements, data privacy policies, or other relevant legal requirements.

Conducting the Fact-Finding Interview

Analyzing and Validating Information

Reviewing Notes and Transcripts

After the interview, review your notes and transcripts to ensure their accuracy and completeness. Identify key insights and patterns, as well as any inconsistencies or gaps in the information provided.

Cross-Referencing Information With Other Sources

Compare the information gathered during the interview with other available sources. This can help you validate the accuracy of the data and provide additional context.

Identifying Discrepancies and Gaps in Information

If discrepancies or gaps in the information emerge, consider conducting follow-up interviews or seeking additional sources to address these issues.

Reporting Findings and Recommendations

Organizing and Presenting the Collected Data

Organize and present the collected data in a clear and accessible format.

Highlighting Key Insights and Trends

Identify and emphasize the key insights and trends that emerged during the interview process. Make connections between the interview findings and your broader financial investigation or project to ensure that your analysis is meaningful and actionable.

Providing Actionable Recommendations Based on Findings

Based on the findings of the fact-finding interviews, develop a set of actionable recommendations for your organization or client. These recommendations should be practical, well-supported, and aligned with the objectives of the financial project or investigation.

Ensuring Transparent and Accurate Communication

When sharing your findings and recommendations, prioritize transparency and accuracy. Clearly communicate the sources of your information, any limitations or uncertainties, and the rationale for your recommendations.

Reporting Findings and Recommendations

Common Challenges and Best Practices

Overcoming Time and Resource Constraints

Fact-finding interviews can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. To maximize efficiency, prepare thoroughly, develop a focused list of questions, and utilize effective questioning techniques.

Navigating Sensitive Topics and Conflicts of Interest

When discussing sensitive topics or potential conflicts of interest, approach the conversation with tact and professionalism. Be transparent about your intentions and objectives, and respect the interviewee's boundaries.

Ensuring Objectivity and Minimizing Biases

To minimize bias and ensure objectivity, be aware of your own assumptions and preconceptions. Approach the interview with an open mind, and be willing to revise your understanding based on new information.

Adapting to Different Interview Styles and Personalities

Each interviewee may have their own communication style and personality. Be prepared to adapt your questioning techniques and approach to accommodate these differences and facilitate a productive conversation.

Fact-Finding Interviews in Different Financial Contexts

Due Diligence for Mergers and Acquisitions

In mergers and acquisitions, fact-finding interviews help assess the target company's financial health, operational processes, and potential risks. This information is essential for evaluating the viability and value of the deal.

Auditing and Compliance Investigations

Fact-finding interviews play a critical role in auditing and compliance investigations, providing insights into an organization's financial practices, internal controls, and adherence to regulations.

Financial Fraud and Forensic Accounting

In financial fraud and forensic accounting cases, fact-finding interviews help uncover fraudulent activities, identify responsible parties, and gather evidence for legal proceedings.

Market Research and Competitor Analysis

Market research and competitor analysis often rely on fact-finding interviews to gain insights into customer preferences, market trends, and competitors' strategies. This information can inform strategic decision-making and support business growth.


Fact-finding interviews are a valuable tool in the financial sector, enabling professionals to gather essential information for decision-making and analysis.

By preparing thoroughly, utilizing effective questioning techniques, and adapting to different interview styles and contexts, financial professionals can conduct successful fact-finding interviews that support their organization's objectives.

Fact-Finding Interview FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

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