Tips to Find a Financial Advisor

One of the questions I’m asked frequently as I travel the country is “Do I need a financial advisor?”

Many individuals and couples like the idea of tackling a variety of projects with a confident do-it-yourself mentality. However, I’ve found that DIY financial planning has its limitations. Given the level of complexity in today’s financial world, a financial advisor can play a significant role in helping you manage a variety of financial issues. Some of their most important contributions are to serve as educator, motivator, and accountability partner.

A Certified Financial Planner can offer a tremendous boost to your sense of financial well-being, especially as you work to align your values with your money choices.

  • A financial advisor provides insight into your current situation. They analyze your cash flow… review your assets… examine insurance and investment needs and opportunities. They help you think through and fund your priorities both short- and long-term.

  • An advisor helps you think about the future. They help you define and articulate your financial goals and values. They show you what is achievable and what it takes to get there.

  • An advisor foresees opportunities and problems you didn’t know existed. They guide you in transitions like buying a house… getting married… having a child… financing education… planning for retirement… dealing with the disability or death of a spouse or a change in marital status.

Finding an advisor involves some key steps:

  • Ask family, friends, and coworkers for recommendations. If their needs and values are similar to your own, you might identify a short list of possible advisors.

  • Go to or You’ll find financial planners by location, specialty and compensation type.

  • Verify a planner’s status at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's site BrokerCheck. While credentials can’t provide a 100% guarantee against fraud or incompetence, this is a good place to start.

Finding a good fit with an advisor may take a few tries. It’s like discovering a good medical professional. You want both competence and ability to communicate, as well as organizational strength that outlasts an individual planner.  

Interview at least two or three potential financial advisors. Come prepared with a list of questions, such as:

  • What process do they use to help you identify, articulate and achieve your various financial goals?

  • How do they get paid? Are they fee-based—or do they make a commission on products they sell?  Or some combination?

  • What experience do they have in advising others in your situation?

  • How frequently will you interact?

  • What topics will you cover?

  • How will the advisor incorporate your values into their recommendations?

Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions to uncover how a trained, certified planner can benefit you. The more you know, the more reasons you have to rely on your advisor for trustworthy guidance.

GOTTA HAVE IT NOW! WOW! 52% of pre-retirees and 44% of retirees consult a financial planner or advisor.—Society of Actuaries

Money Talks: How could you financial advisor help you achieve your various financial goals?

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