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How to Find a Great Financial Advisor

Financial planners are a valuable resource in managing your assets and planning your future, but how do you know how to choose the right one? First, understand the type of financial advisor you need. Then look for valid credentials, core competencies and if you can, a background check. 

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What should I look for in a financial advisor?

What type of financial advisor do you need? One would hope you wouldn’t ask a financial planner specializing in retirement to look over your business plan. But if you are an individual looking to retire, make sure that your financial planner looks over your overall financial situation, not just your investments. 

Check to see if the financial plan is fee-only. Brokers paid on commissions are usually more concerned on making commission from a customer. Fee-only financial planners have a set fee which establishes a relationship with their client that lasts the lifetime of their financial plan.  

The next thing to look for is a fiduciary. A real fiduciary’s website should have a clearly accessible form called an ADV; (CTRL+F to search on their homepage), but how do you know they’re working in your best interest? Although it’s tempting to check third party websites, the best way to find or check a fiduciary is through the SEC website. There you can check disclosures, years of experience and licenses each financial advisor has in your state and in other states, if a move is in your future. 

How to choose a financial advisor
How to choose a financial advisor

Fee-Based vs Commission Based

  • Fee-Based financial advisors are for individuals who have accumulated substantial assets. These advisors tend to offer a wide range of services, portfolio management and financial planning.  
  • Commission based financial advisors make a commission on the financial products sold to clients.  

Brokers vs Advisors

  • A Broker is licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to sell products for a fee. 
  • Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) offer a more comprehensive set of services, which can include financial planning and asset management. Advisors take a look at a client’s whole financial picture to determine the best strategy for their investments.  
How to choose a financial advisor
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