Choosing a Financial Advisor That’s Right for You

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In a day and age with online banking and apps for everything, you might wonder whether you actually need a financial advisor. After all, you can watch your money come in and out in real time on your smartphone, and it doesn’t take a tech genius to transfer funds or allocate savings from certain accounts. Why would you pay someone to do what you’re doing already?
 
There’s a lot more to financial advising than monitoring income and setting up IRAs. From short-term savings to long-term expenses to investments and eventual estate planning, the right financial advisor can walk you through all stages of your financial journey and make a big difference in how comfortably you achieve your goals. The right financial advisor will:
 

  1. Save you time.
  2. Keep you accountable.
  3. Lower your stress.
  4. Offer expertise and market savvy.
  5. Prepare you for upcoming expenses (taxes, college tuition, etc.).
  6. Turn your financial goals into realities.
 
Here’s what you should keep in mind when choosing the financial advisor that’s right for you.  
 
Look for someone who’s certified. Any financial advisor you choose should be a certified financial planner (CFP). Not only does that mean they’re licensed and certified to offer financial advice, but they also have passed the six-hour CFP exam and continue to take mandatory courses on finances and ethics to maintain their designation. Financial planners could also carry CFA, CPA or ChFC designations, but the CFP designation is considered the gold standard.
 
Get familiar with their code of ethics. This is the quickest way to determine their responsibilities toward you and your best interests. The language in the code of ethics should make this clear (look for the word “fiduciary”).
 
Check their credentials. Use brokercheck.com, adviserinfo.sec.gov or cfp.net to verify your advisor’s credentials. These sites (all free) will show you the advisor’s background, experience and certifications. You can also search the CFP Board website for a list of CFPs by state.
 
Choose a financial fiduciary. A financial advisor doesn’t have to be a fiduciary to be a CFP, but being a financial fiduciary means they’re held to the highest ethical standards. Fiduciaries are obligated to put your best interests first.
 
Do you need long- or short-term help? Do you need someone who can help you with a specific financial need such as buying a house or paying for school expenses? You might not need more than one or two hourly consultations to get things on track. But if you’re looking for someone to help guide you toward your list of long-term financial goals, you need a comprehensive financial planner. If you need someone to help you manage and invest your money, look for someone who specializes in asset management.    
 
Consider their expertise and get referrals. Although many financial advisors have experience helping wide-ranging clientele, consider looking for someone who’s particularly skilled at guiding people at your particular life stage.
 
If it sounds too good to be true, walk away. Any investment in the market comes with risk, and promises beyond average returns are unrealistic. Look for someone who’s optimistic but realistic.
 
Remember, communication is key. Set up a first meeting with a financial advisor, and think of it as an interview. Ask any questions you might have, including how they’ll communicate with you about important news and updates on your finances and portfolio. If it feels like a good fit, great! If it doesn’t, be prepared to walk away.
 
For more on investment offerings and financial planning services offered at Landmark Bank, visit https://www.landmarkbank.com/investing/investment-offerings/offerings-and-financial-planning.
    
 

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