How to find the best financial advisor


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When managing your finances becomes a chore, it might be time to find a financial advisor. A good financial advisor can help you invest your money, plan your future goals, and provide a sounding board during volatile stock market declines.

The task of finding the best financial advisor for you, however, can be daunting, especially when you’ve never worked with such a professional before.

“Finding an advisor shouldn’t be a daunting process,” says Krista Aliga, Senior Financial Advisor at Personal Capital. “It is important to find a qualified financial advisor who can be trusted and who offers transparent prices. “

Related: Reach your financial goals with dedicated advice and expert assistance from Personal Capital

Here’s how.

1. Determine if you need a financial advisor

The decision to seek a financial advisor can be motivated by many circumstances, such as retirement, a new job, getting a windfall, or simply a resolve to become more financially responsible.

For many, reading investment books and websites provides enough information to start investing. With robo-advisors like Betterment, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, and Wealthfront, it’s easy and affordable to achieve sound investment management. Many digital investment advisers also offer access to human financial advisers.

But if money management isn’t your strong suit, or if you want a more comprehensive service than just portfolio management, it may be worth paying for a financial advisor. Fortunately, you can choose to work with financial planners in a range of capacities. You can hire the service of a planner only for occasional questions; others, meanwhile, will take care of your entire financial life.

2. Know Yourself Before Finding A Financial Advisor

Before looking for a planner or financial advisor, understand the services you need. A financial advisor can help you with:

  • Selection and management of investments
  • College, retirement and goal setting
  • Tax planning strategies
  • Budgeting, treasury and debt analysis
  • Advice on bequests, inheritance and charitable donations
  • Financial support and advice, especially during tumultuous investment market cycles

Determine which services you need professional support for, then make sure potential financial advisers are experienced in at least those areas.

Related: Reach your financial goals with dedicated advice and expert assistance from Personal Capital

3. Keep in mind the references of the financial advisor

With dozens of money management and financial planning references, assessing the good faith of potential advisors can be confusing.

Robert Johnson, CEO of Economic Index Associates, recommends sticking to the most recognized financial planner credentials, such as a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Chartered Financial Planner (CFP). These individuals have taken extensive courses and demonstrate work experience in financial planning and management. In addition, they have passed rigorous examinations and comply with a code of ethics.

While the CFA and CFP are the most popular degrees, graduate degrees in finance, business, law, and accounting, among others, are also helpful.

You’ll also want to look for another term when selecting candidate advisers: is someone a trustee, which means they are legally and ethically obligated to act in your best interests?

If the answer is no, you might be better off elsewhere.

4. Watch the fees

The fees are important because every dollar you pay to a financial advisor is a dollar that is not invested in the financial markets to grow and enrich your wealth. Here are four common pricing structures:

  • Fees as a percentage of assets. Assets Under Management Fee, or AUM, is a typical structure for wealth managers and those working with larger accounts. If your account balance is $ 100,000 and the advisor charges 1.25% of assets under management annually, then your annual management fee will be $ 1,250. Many advisers have sliding scales so that as asset balances go up, fees go down. It is not uncommon to find charges of 1.25% for assets up to $ 500,000, then 1.0% for $ 1 million to $ 5 million, and 0.75% between $ 5 million and $ 10 million. dollars in assets under management.
  • Flat rates for à la carte services. You can pay a flat fee for consultations with a CFP or a personalized comprehensive financial plan. This type of payment schedule may appeal to those who only need occasional professional financial advice.
  • Commissions. Commissioned advisers are paid a small fee for a particular transaction, similar to an insurance agent who receives a percentage of the charge of your insurance premium. Clients of commission advisors should be aware of any conflicts of interest of financial advisers and carefully check fees. These types of advisors might be encouraged to offer higher fee products.
  • Automated financial advice. Robo-advisors who manage investment portfolios algorithmically typically charge fees based on assets under management or a subscription. Some robo-advisers also offer human financial advisers. Management fees range from zero at SoFi Invest and Schwab Intelligent Advisors to 0.89% at Personal Capital, where CFPs are available to all clients (fees decrease as assets increase).

Finally, keep in mind that fees shouldn’t be your only concern – you don’t want, for example, to go for the cheapest advisor if they won’t be able to do a good job. Choose the financial advisor that best suits you and your budget.

5. How to find a financial advisor

Now that you know the financial advisor landscape, you’re ready to find the best financial planner or advisor for you. A place to start is to ask trusted professionals like lawyers and accountants that you already use. Friends and colleagues are also potential sources of financial advisers.

If these sources can’t find suitable potential advisers, look for industry organizations, such as the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), the Garrett Planning Network, or the XY Planning Network. Each contains databases of fiduciary financial planners.

When you begin your research, remember to take your time and do your due diligence. This means performing background checks on those who can handle your money. You can easily do this by checking their credentials on BrokerCheck, an industry site for recording disciplinary histories and customer complaints. You can also ask potential advisors for referrals, but keep in mind that they can select the most enthusiastic clients you can speak with.

Investing in time before committing to a specific advisor can help you end up with a savvy financial manager for your situation.

Related: Reach your financial goals with dedicated advice and expert assistance from Personal Capital


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