How to Find a Good Financial
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Find Someone Who is Certified or Chartered
· Click to find a Certified Financial Planner©
(CFP©) by contacting the Certified Financial Planner Board of
· Click to find a Chartered Financial Consultant
(ChFC) from the American College.
· Click to find a Certified Retirement
Counselor® (CRC®) trained at the International
Foundation for Retirement Education.
Step 2: Verify the Financial Advisor's
Make sure the Financial Advisor’s certification(s) is
legitimate. For a listing of designations, click
Make sure the advisor you
trust with your money knows what he/she is doing.
Step 3: Find a Professional Who
Focus your search on Financial Advisors whose specialty is
with clients like you. If you are a young person still working and plotting your financial future, you may
not want an advisor who manages retirees’ money. If you are a retiree, you probably don’t want someone
who specializes in working executives.
Step 4: Determine the Type of Advisor You
Research what kind of service investment advisors,
stockbrokers, financial planners, and insurance agents provide to determine which type of advice you
Step 5: Check Complaint History
- Contact the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (finra.org) to search an advisor’s name to determine if previous clients
registered a complaint against them.
- Verify their
credentials through your state’s Department of Securities or the Securities and Exchange Commission
doing a criminal background check; convicted felons are allowed to have securities licenses. Many online
companies provide this service for a modest fee.
Step 6: Do a Background
Make sure your advisor does not have a felony record
or civil litigation pending. Check to see if any of their licenses
have ever been revoked or suspended.
Step 7: Look For Red Flags
Beware of an adviser who has pat advice to offer before
you’ve finished explaining your financial situation and goals. Determine if they offer the same product over and
over to everyone they meet, or do they provide different solutions for different
Step 8: Check Their Affiliations
Find out with whom your advisor associates. Do
they associate and work with other industry professionals? Are they active in the local community? They
may just be visiting the area to pick up extra business, which could prevent a long-term relationship or
Step 9: Setup Interviews
Narrow your choices to a few advisors and call for an
appointment -- most will meet with you for a free 30-minute introductory session.
Step 10: Go With Experience
Make sure the advisor has sufficient experience. You
can do this by verifying the date of their license(s).
Step 11: Determine If You Want a Product or a
Before meeting, decide if you
want a financial product that suits your needs or a financial plan for a period of time in your life.
Different plans are available for beginning investors, college education, working families, and
retirees. This will also help you
determine how you compensate your advisor -- with fees or commissions.
Step 12: Investigate Fees and
Before meeting, find out how the advisor is
· “Fee-only” planners charge a set rate for their services so
there is no incentive for them to sell you more than you need.
· Other planners collect commissions based on what they sell
you so you only pay for the advice you act on.
Step 13: Ask About Availability
your fact-finding meeting, ask how many times the planner foresees the two of you meeting to discuss your finances,
and whether those meetings will be with the advisor or with an assistant.
Step 14: Be Comfortable -- Changes Are
Make sure you understand and feel good about what will
occur. There will be changes during the transition and you want an adviser with whom you are comfortable during
verifies most of the above items for Investors in advance. However, there are many qualified Financial
Advisors not listed on our website. The guidelines listed above can help any Investor make a smart decision about
choosing a new Financial Advisor.