Tips for Choosing a Financial Advisor

Who You Should Trust With Your Money

--Look for a licensed certified financial planner, who must abide by a code of ethics, take a difficult test that covers everything from taxes to investments to estate planning, and keep up with continuing education credits.

--Look for a fee-only advisor, not one paid a commission to sell you a certain investment product. They will work at an hourly rate, charge a percentage of the assets they are managing for you, or a combination of the two.

--Just because someone is a good self-marketer doesn’t mean they are a good money manager. Get three referrals from people whom you respect and who have done well financially during both up and down markets. Call all three of them.

--Ask how long the individual has been a financial advisor. You want someone with at least several years of experience, but one whom you can also grow with. You do not want someone who may retire just when you need him or her the most.

--Ask how they will incorporate your values and lifestyle to inform the advice they give you.

--Ask if they have ever been involved in any lawsuits. The answer should be a resounding, “No.”

--Choose someone you can understand. If he or she speaks in jargon and makes you feel intimidated, it is not a good fit.

Sources: Julie Murphy Casserly, certified financial planner; and Women and Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny by Suze Orman

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