DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: Can you give me some tips on how to choose a good financial planner or adviser? My wife and I are five or six years away from retiring and could use some professional help to get us on track.
DEAR SEEKING: With all the different financial advisers and services available today, choosing a trusted professional that can meet your needs can be a bit confusing. Here are some suggestions that can help.
Where to look
A good place to start your search is by asking friends or relatives for recommendations. If you don't know anyone who can give you a referral, and you're looking for broad-based financial advice, hire a Certified Financial Planner, or CFP, who are considered the “gold standard” in the industry. To get the CFP credential, they must have a college degree and be educated in a wide range of personal finance subjects, pass a 2-day exam, have at least three years experience, meet continuing-education requirements and abide by a code of ethics.
If your needs are more specific, some other financial professionals to consider are a Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) who is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or a state securities regulator to manage investment portfolios; a Chartered Financial Consultant (CHFC), who specialize in insurance and estate planning; and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), who can help with tax planning.