How to find the best financial planner and advisor for you.

Terri Spath |

Financial advice is not just for the wealthy. The investment management and financial planning is inclusive, professional, and holistic. 

We understand that the financial industry can be overwhelming. You may feel overlooked or underserved. Countless individuals claim to be financial advisers and planners. The regulatory landscape has been unclear, allowing large brokerage and agent sales units from big Wall Street firms, banks, mutual fund companies and insurance companies to promote their own products or commission-based brokerage as financial advice. It’s not always in your best interest.

The best type of advice comes from fiduciary planners, pros who are legally bound to prioritize your best interest above all else. Technology has helped to cut the costs, making guidance available to many more people. Most find that the fees charged by reputable planners are worth the advice and services provided. 

Why you may want to work with a financial planner:

Life is complicated. Your finances become more complex in life. Mortgages, debt, retirement savings, kids, adult children and many other life events unique to you can add to your financial picture. You may want help answering questions and finding guidance around investment options, contribution rates and competing financial needs.

Getting ready to retire. Retirement planning may focus on saving as much as possible, but there is more. The transition to retirement can raise complex issues such as working longer, retiring earlier, filing for Social Security, selecting Medicate coverage and more.

Retirement years. In retirement, ensuring adequate income is crucial. Complex questions rise regarding which savings accounts to use first, safe withdrawal rates, tax planning, pension distribution options, managing market fluctuations, and rollovers from 401(k) to individual retirement accounts.

Peace of mind. Without creating a financial plan, you may be left uncertain. A financial advisor uses software to model your finances, projecting success probabilities and providing valuable scenarios for retirement options. This offers peace of mind and helps make informed decisions.


How do you choose a financial advisor?

1. Fiduciary duty: Choose a financial advisor who is always a fiduciary, putting your best interests first. This ensures the highest level of professional care and comes with legal protections.

2. Credentials and expertise: Seek a financial planner with recognized credentials such as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designations. These qualifications demonstrate their expertise and commitment to professional standards.

3. Experience in good and bad markets: Look for a financial advisor who has experience navigating both favorable and challenging market conditions. Their ability to adapt and make informed decisions during various market cycles is crucial for your long-term financial success.

4. Disclosure and conflicts: Be cautious of advisers who provide conflicted advice, even with disclosures. Many advisers are held to a "Best Interest" standard, but if they can’t tell you they are a “fiduciary,” they are legally required to always act in your best interests. Just ask: are you a fiduciary?

5. Registered Investment Advisor (RIA): Opt for a fee-only RIA who is compensated for their time, never on commissions. They work independently or with small firms, have access to diverse financial products, and are regulated by the SEC and state authorities.

Choosing a financial advisor who is a fiduciary, holds relevant credentials, has experience in different market conditions, and operates as an RIA, you can have confidence in their expertise, ethical standards, and ability to guide you through various market environments.

Have questions? We can help.