By Michael J. Swanson
Managing your personal finances and accomplishing your financial goals can be challenging, so it can be helpful to hire a professional financial advisor to assist you. When searching for a financial advisor, it is crucial that you do your research to ensure that you are hiring the best qualified advisor for your personal needs.
At a minimum, your advisor should be a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). This status is awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards and must be maintained by the advisor through ongoing education. Anyone can call themselves a financial advisor, so make sure they have the right credentials and experience. You can visit www.cfp.net to check on your advisor’s status or to search for a new advisor.
You may also want to check out the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) at www.napfa.org. They have a database of certified financial advisors that you can search through. You can filter your search by fee structure, technical areas of focus, and the type of clients they serve to find the one that is the best fit for your needs. NAPFA also has a multitude of different resources available on their website that can help you properly interview advisors to make sure they are the right choice for you.
It is usually best to hire a fee-based planner rather than a commissioned planner. A fee-based planner will have fewer potential conflicts of interest since they do not earn fees or commissions by recommending particular investments.
Before you begin searching for an advisor, you should determine the financial goals that you want assistance with, such as retirement planning, budgeting, estate planning, and education funding. Doing this will help you choose an advisor that specializes in your needs. It will also help you communicate with potential advisors about what you expect to get out of their services.
After you have determined your goals, do some research to find financial advisors to research further. You can do this by asking family, friends, or colleagues for recommendations or going to websites like www.napfa.org and www.cfp.net to search through their databases of advisors. Read the financial advisor’s website and any available online reviews to get an idea of how they perform their business. Make note of anything you find that you don’t understand or that you may want to find out more details about later on from the advisor.
Once you have found an advisor that you think could help you, schedule a phone call or face-to-face meeting with them before you make your final decision. Before you speak with them, prepare a few questions to ask them about their educational and professional experience, their areas of expertise, the services they provide, their disciplinary history, and their compensation policies.
Having an expert on your side can be invaluable when it comes to something as important as your personal finances. You don’t have to do it all on your own, but it is vital that you choose carefully in order to find an experienced financial advisor who has your best interests in mind.
Our special partnership with Pinnacle Financial Partners has enabled us to bring together a first-class wealth management team specifically to advise plaintiff lawyers. Led by Mr. Jeff East and focusing solely on the unique needs of contingent-fee lawyers, our team can help you in all aspects of financial planning, retirement preparation and wealth management.
Mr. East serves as a senior vice president with Pinnacle Asset Management and offers securities as a financial advisor with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC.
Advocate Capital, Inc. is the premier provider of strategic financial products and accounting services for successful trial law firms. It has served the plaintiff bar for 22 years from its headquarters in Nashville, TN, and enjoys a client base that extends nationwide. For more information, visit www.advocatecapital.com or call 1.877.894.9724.