Let’s say you’re the kind that can make money but don’t know what to do with it once it’s yours. Or perhaps you know a bit about personal finance but need some help on the more complicated matters associated with managing your money. Or maybe you don’t want a thing to do with handling your finances — you simply want to turn them over to someone else. In all of these cases (and several others you can likely imagine), you may be in the market for a financial adviser. But the world of financial planners is full of sharks, say CNNMoney and USAToday:
In most states, anyone can call themselves a financial adviser, even if they don’t have any training.
So how do you pick a financial planner who knows what she’s doing and who won’t rip you off by only working to turn your money into her money? A couple thoughts…
For starters, it’s always a good idea to ask friends and family for suggestions! Following that:
Several groups certify financial advisers. A good starting place is the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. This organization administers the Certified Financial Planner designation, which can only be obtained after extensive study and a broad, comprehensive exam. Sticking with a CFP registered adviser doesn’t guarantee the person is honest, but it gives you an assurance the person has at least mastered the knowledge needed to give you good advice.
Then, once you pick a few financial planner candidates, you need to interview them. What should you ask/look for? Consider:
The first step is making sure the planner’s expertise meets your needs.
[Then] there’s another issue of compatibility. Is the adviser someone you can confide in, someone you’ll feel comfortable going to with questions, problems and concerns?
You’ll also want to consider how the adviser is compensated. Some planners receive commissions for the investments they sell you. Others, such as NAPFA members, charge fees only, usually an annual retainer, a percentage of assets or both. Whatever fee arrangement you ultimately go with, make sure you get in writing how much you’re paying and that you know exactly what services you’re getting for the money you’re shelling out.
You’ll also want to check to be sure your planner hasn’t had any run-ins with regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Association of North American Securities Administrators and the National Association of Securities Dealers.
Here’s the bottom-line:
The more research you do and questions you ask before signing on with someone, the fewer problems you’re likely to experience down the road.
Sounds to us like good advice for any sort of major purchase — but maybe even more so where your financial future is concerned. Let’s not forget, though, Financial Advisors Often Give Poor, Expensive Investing Advice. — FREE MONEY FINANCE