What to Look for in a Financial Advisor

Hiring a professional financial advisor to better your current, future or retirement years is a great idea when you don’t have all of the knowledge to handle it yourself. How do you know what to look for in an advisor and how will you ever find the best candidate? Advisors may differ in investment strategies and overall methods, and choosing the right advisor can make a significant difference in results. Here are some key traits to look for when picking an advisor to guide you on the path to a stress-free and financially free retirement:

Look for the CFP designation:
An advisor with the CFP or Certified Financial Planner designation is an expert in long-term financial planning. To earn this designation, the advisor must take mandatory classes on financial planning. In addition, these professionals are licensed and regulated.

Compensation:
Ask any potential advisors how they are compensated. Many advisors charge a fee based on assets under management, others will charge fees plus commissions on products sold to you. In addition, advisors may charge you a flat fee for financial planning or an hourly rate. When an advisor is compensated on a fee-only basis, he or she has no incentive to sell you products to earn commission revenue. Make sure the advisor’s compensation is clearly understood before proceeding!

Client types:
When looking for an advisor, look for a professional whose clientele consists of people similar to you, your lifestyle, and what you’re looking to achieve. If you are an individual, look for an advisor that works primarily with individuals. If you are looking for an advisor for a business, look for a professional that deals primarily with businesses.

Investment approach:
Advisors can approach financial planning in many different ways. If you are generally risk averse or close to retirement, look for an advisor with a conservative approach that reflects that. On the other hand, if you are young and more aggressive, look for an advisor with solid experience in long-term growth strategies.

Hands on:
Communication is an extremely important piece of the puzzle! After all, you are entrusting the advisor with your retirement savings and that’s a HUGE deal. Look for an advisor that has a track record of good communication with clients, such as regular, quarterly phone calls or meetings with clients. You don’t want to be stuck with someone who keeps you in the dark.

Transparency:
A potential advisor should be very open and transparent about all aspects of his or her business. This includes transparency regarding compensation, investment risks and more. One way to see such transparency is to request a sample financial plan.

Experience:
As with any other profession, experience goes a long way when deciding on a financial advisor. Look for advisors with many years of experience who have shown success and stability through both bull markets and bear markets. Experience is always the best teacher!

Looking for these and other positive traits when choosing a financial advisor can help ensure that you partner with a professional who shares your vision and will assist you in achieving your long-term savings objectives!

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