Consulting a financial planners is an important step towards securing your retirement years. Ideally, a financial planner should be consulted at least a decade before you plan to retire. If you are beyond that mark, it’s not too late. Just be sure to find a financial planner that’s right for you and your situation.
What to look for when choosing a financial planner:
- Referrals—Ask family and friends for recommendations. Also, ask for personal references from the financial planners you are considering.
- Credentials—CFP (Certified Financial Planner) should be among the credentials listed after his/her name.
- Fiduciary—A fiduciary has made a pledge to always act in the best interest of his/her clients.
- Understands your situation—Look for a financial planner who has worked with people in your stage of life. For example, understands retirement plans, college accounts, seniors, singles, young families, etc.
- Background Check—simply googling your financial planner’s name can help you determine if they have ever been accused of a crime or other unethical acts.
- Charges a flat rate for services—Financial advisors that charge a flat rate for services are thought to have their clients best interests at heart. Be aware that in some cases financial advisors work off of commission and product recommendations.
- Clarity—Are fees, investment options, goals, expectations and processes discussed in a clear, understandable way?
- Privacy—Does the financial advisor vow to keep all personal and financial information you divulge in confidence?
Questions to ask:
- How much do you charge for your service? Is there an initial planning fee? Do you make money for selling me a specific product? Do you receive a percentage of assets under your management?
- What licenses, credentials and certifications do you have? CFP is preferred.
- What services do you and your firm provide?
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime or publicly disciplined for any unlawful or unethical acts throughout your career?
- What type of clients do you specialize in?
- What is your investment approach?
- How much contact do you have with your clients?
- Will there be an individual or a team working on my financial plan and investments?
- What is your past experience?
- Why should I choose you over other financial planners?
- Will I be able to access my financial information and review progress?
- What is the smallest, average and largest portfolio that you manage?
- What investment firms do you use in your practice?
- How often do you evaluate my situation and provide an up-to-date report?