How to Find a Financial Advisor or Investment Planner
Chris RobertsonThe following information will help you find a financial advisor who can address your financial needs and help you achieve your goals.If you are looking for a financial advisor, certified financial planner (CFP), or other investment advisor, you will want to interview several before you make a selection. But even before that, you need to determine your personal financial goals. You will also need to decide what services you want. Financial advisors offer various services, including financial planning, portfolio management, estate planning, insurance, college savings, retirement savings, group benefit plans, business finances, foundation investments, stocks, and bonds.How can you find a good financial professional? Many people rely on references from friends, family, coworkers, or lawyers. Another way is to use Internet search tools that locate professionals based on your needs and desires. Good search tools will screen advisors before recommending them. Among other criteria, they will check advisors’ qualifications and records of any complaints. They will match you with an advisor who offers the services you need. Once you have a few names, whether from recommendations or a search tool, you can start interviewing.Meet a potential advisor face to face before you make any commitment to work together. This is a person with whom you are likely to have a long-term relationship. Make sure you can communicate comfortably. Find out some basic information about how the advisor works, such as:* Does the advisor work on brokerage commissions or a fee-only basis? A financial advisor who works on commission may recommend frequent transactions because he or she makes money on each transaction. A fee-only advisor does not have such conflicts of interest so can focus on what’s best for your portfolio. * Will the advisor rebalance your portfolio periodically? As the values of your investments change, so does the balance between the different asset classes. Rebalancing restores the desired balance.* Will the advisor give you a quarterly assessment of your portfolio’s performance? This is the way to determine if adjustments need to be made.* Will the advisor write an investment policy statement for you? The policy should detail your investment objectives and constraints.* Will the advisor show you a variety of investment models and mixes that can achieve your goals? A fee-only advisor has more options to offer because his suggestions aren’t colored by his or her personal financial gains.* How will the advisor keep you informed of new products? Finance is a rapidly changing field. Investment opportunities change frequently and you need to be able to respond promptly.Unfortunately, most people start looking for a financial advisor when they have financial problems. By starting earlier, you can often avoid the pitfalls that lead to financial crises. Your financial advisor will help you create a financial plan that works for you and keep your plan focused. You can put your day-to-day financial worries aside when you have a plan working for you. A good financial planner will help you reach your goals, whatever they are.Chris Robertson
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