More citizens like you and myself seek financial advice from the most qualified people one can think of - financial advisers. And good for us. We are no subject-matter experts, yet we need to manage our finances in the most convenient way possible. It all makes sense. However, for some reason, most people assume all financial advisers are equally good. You don't often hear, "I need a second opinion on this financial move my current adviser is suggesting." Practice shows that we need to ask it occasionally. And most importantly, are you sure your money is in good hands? Here's how we make sure it is:
Always Check for a Financial Adviser's Credentials.
If they work for a firm, check the company's credentials as well. The more help you need from an adviser (e.g., retirement plan, debt repayment, trust fund, tax issues), the more qualified and reliable they have to be. Holding a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) is to their advantage since it serves as proof of their industry knowledge and exams in real estate, insurance planning, investment, and it marks years of experience in the industry.
Find Out How Your Financial Adviser Makes Money.
Simply put, some financial advisers must legally work in your best interest and those who are not legally bound to this "fiduciary duty." Thus, while the first type will go above and beyond to provide advice in YOUR interest, the second will make suggestions that are more likely to bring them good commissions from third parties. The first type, also called fiduciaries, works on a fee-only basis at an hourly or flat rate. You can find them easily by checking the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). Understanding this part will help you decide between different experts.
Decide If a Robo-Advisor Is Enough.
Automated investment advice will usually be enough for people who only need one type of service, like a student planning his retirement. Robo-advisors are cost-effective, fast, and straightforward. Robo-advisors provide financial suggestions based on algorithms and data. In investments, many clients use a hybrid version, which also includes some interaction with a person. People are, at the moment, the best at estimating investment risks. For more complex schemes, always rely on a professional with experience.
Consciously Choose Between an Advisor and an Adviser.
Despite the slight difference in spelling, the two notions carry out different meanings. Pretty much anyone can be an advisor, even without a college degree. It takes a couple of exams, and you're good to go. A financial adviser with an "E" is an investment professional with the necessary expertise to help you. Moreover, all the laws and regulations are only written for one form, and that’s “adviser”.
Make Sure Your Financial Adviser Is the Right Person for the Service You Need.
Even the best advisers don't supply a complete set of services. If you need more than one service (investment advice, retirement planning), you will more likely find it with a firm, not an individual adviser. Investment advisers must be registered through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or a state regulator. The CFP Board regulates certified financial planners. Their expertise is in helping their clients set up long-term money management plans, taking into account all their financial circumstances. Knowing what services you need will help you choose the right professional.
If your money is in your hand and you're not doing anything with it, I recommend you look for an adviser or at least an advisor. Your financial future takes a bit of planning, but that’s a learned skill. Now you know how to identify an excellent professional. You will get better at managing your assets, spotting investment opportunities, and managing risks.