Steps for Finding the Best Financial Advisors
1. Ethics — will they act as your fiduciary?
2. Clean record — do they have any problems on their regulatory record?
3. Credentials — do they have the education and knowledge to serve you properly?
Education is important, but a general financial or accounting degree doesn’t necessarily mean someone has up-to-date knowledge about personal finance. So what does? There are several high-quality credentials that can help you find professionals who have invested in industry-specific education and passed exams evidencing their knowledge. Some of the highest quality financial advisor credentials also have experience and continuing education requirements, too.
Here are good ones to look for:
The US Securities & Exchange Commission maintains a website that allows you to look up each credential you see and find out what it took to earn it. That can help you determine what’s helpful to you, or whether the credential is more marketing than anything else. You can find and explore that resource here.
4. Experience — how many years/decades have they been helping people plan their financial futures?
5. Comfort level — will you feel comfortable working with this firm?
6. Philosophy — what’s their investing and money philosophy?
7. Communication — how will they stay in touch with you?
8. Services included — will you outgrow this firm?
Can the firm help you with tax planning and tax-efficient investing?
How about estate planning and charitable giving planning?
Can they help you find cost-effective insurance policies?
How about college funding?
Is the firm able to help with employee benefits and retirement plans?
While you may not need all of these financial services today, hiring a firm that provides a wider scope may save you time and headaches in the future.