How to Find a Financial Advisor

Do you need advice and help managing your money? Are you considering changing financial advisors? Do you need financial advice to help you understand the impact of your divorce? Here’s how to find qualified financial advisors and the questions you should ask when you interview them.

Ask for a referral from your friends.  Women and men refer differently. Women easily share information about who they are working with and why they do or do not trust that person.  Men tend to keep information closely guarded and will not share positive or negative information as easily. Ask your friends for a referral but make sure you interview several advisors and check their backgrounds.  You can research this information at the Financial Planners Association website and search for a Certified Financial Planner in your state as well.

Know what you want. Are you looking for someone to provide a full comprehensive financial plan, or an investment advisor who will only manage a stock portfolio? What is your risk tolerance?  There are different skill levels and different levels of service, so it is best to understand what your needs are before you make your list of advisors so you can match what you want to their services. 

Ask these questions:

What is your background? Financial advising is a fast-growing industry, so it is possible someone was a plumber in the past and a financial advisor today. Ask to see a resume which includes their educational background including any certificates and professional accreditations.

How long have you doing this? Once again, there are a lot of people who have moved into the financial advising industry recently. Someone who is younger may have a different understanding of risk tolerance that a person who is older.

What services do you offer? There are many different titles for people who work in the financial industry. Investment advisor, wealth manager, and financial planner are just a few. Make sure the person you choose to work with provides all the services you need but that you only pay for those you use.

How do you get paid? Do they charge a flat fee or are they commission based?  How are their fees calculated?  Is it a front-end commission or a back-end commission? This information will help you determine the cost and the value of working with a financial advisor.  Reputable advisors will be very forthcoming with this information.

Get a Second Opinion. Perhaps you already have a financial advisor.  Ask yourself if he or she has been proactive about communicating with you during the tough times.  If you only hear from your advisor when things are good, you might want to consider getting a second opinion on your portfolio and investment strategy.  Your advisor should be there for you when times are bad and offer advice about how to protect your wealth from turbulent times.

Finally, get more involved in the financial management of your family if you are not already.  Take a financial skills class at a local community college or read a book about personal finance. That will help give you the background and basic knowledge in order to ask questions of the person who will be handling your money.

Want more info? Click here to listen to Kathleen’s weekly financial tips on Chat with Women.

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