Investing involves plenty of research, which is why many individuals turn to financial advisors to help them make financial decisions. But not all people who call themselves financial advisors are certified or trained to know the full scope of factors involved with investing or financial planning. Here are ways to help sort through this crowd and find an appropriate advisor for your needs.
Understand the Different Types of Advisors
The three main types of legitimate financial advisors are commission-based, fee-based and fee-only. Commission-based advisors, which include brokers, earn commissions off the financial products they sell. These advisors tend to have a Series 6 or Series 7 license. Since they are often paid by companies in which they have a business relationship, this scenario opens the door to conflicts of interest.
Fee-based advisors typically work for a broker or agent and sell financial planning services for a fee on top of selling financial products for commissions. Meanwhile, a fee-only advisor is perhaps the most relevant to an investor who wants advice based on the most objective evidence possible, due to working strictly for a flat fee or hourly rate.
Figure Out How Much Assistance You Need
If you choose a fee-only advisor you may have to pay based on the amount of time you spend with him or her. This is an ideal scenario if you’re trying to keep your financial goals simple, such as maintaining a mutual fund or portfolio of stocks. A seasoned financial professional can provide a comprehensive financial plan based on your personal situation. If you want an asset manager to monitor your account and make trades, you’ll have to pay a small percentage of your gains to the professional.
Ask About Experience and Credentials
Prior to deciding on who will have access to your confidential information to help manage your finances, it’s best to find out about the professional’s background. Ask what type of licenses and certifications they’ve earned. A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is considered the top tier level in the industry. You should then run a check on BrokerCheck to find out if they have any negative marks against them.
Rank Your Candidates
Once you’ve gathered the essential information on each candidate you should evaluate each one based on experience, ethics and how well they understand your needs. One of the most reliable resources to help narrow down your list is the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).