Ask Terry Questions Finding Financial advisor

Finding Financial advisor

By Terry Savage on May 15, 2016 | Financial Planning / Retirement

Hi Terry,
I just sold my business and retired. I want to find a financial advisor to formulate the long term plan for my husband and myself. I want an advisor who gives advice on a fee basis. I do not want to work with a person who is selling.
Thank you Marcia

Terry Says:  OK, I can give you the basics of what you need, and a place to search — but the ultimate responsibility lies in your hands.   First, if you want to search for a fee-only financial advisor, go to This is the website of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors — all are fee-only.  You can search there for a fee-only advisor in your area.  But that’s just a start!  Then you want to make sure the people you consider are CFPs — Certified Financial Planners.  They sign a pledge to follow the Fiduciary Standard — to put your interests first, and to fully disclose all fees and costs.

Next, you have to think about what kind of planning you need.  You might not even know what you’re missing.  For instance, the planner should be qualified in investments — but also in planning for withdrawals during retirement (to make your money last as long as you do — and perhaps leave some for your heirs).  And you need a planner to help you with an estate plan– although a separate attorney might be called in for expertise in that area.  Life insurance and taxes are another key component of your plan.  A CFP is am expert in all these areas.

So set up some interviews.  Ask for references.  Call those references — and make sure they are people in a similar life situation.  The first interview should be free.  Ask questions — but also be aware of the question the planner asks YOU (about your life situation and goals.) Trust your instincts.   If the planner does not include both of you in the process, walk out!  If the planner seems anxious to move your investments and insurance around, think twice.  Never give your planner total power to act without your agreement — and be wary if the planner asks for this power.

Directly ask about compensation – how are the fees charged (hourly, annually, based on total assets??).   Ask about additional fees for services like tax preparation or estate planning.  How often will you meet with the planner — once the plan is set up?  Will you meet with the planner, or an administrative assistant.  (Note the assistant can help with carrying out the details, but you are paying for a relationship with the planner.)  What happens if something happens to the planner — is there any depth at the firm?

Yes, these are complicated steps — but you were smart enough to build a business, so you can do this. Always remember no one cares about your money as much as YOU do!

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