4 Tips for Finding a Good Certified Financial Planner

Working with a certified financial planner can have a dramatic effect on your life and finances. A good financial planner can assist you in working through your financial difficulties and help you to preserve and maintain your wealth. A bad certified financial planner can ruin your finances and set your financial goals back for years, and you may not be able to fully recover. Here are 4  tips to help you find the right certified financial planner.

Tip #1 - Check the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) offers information and services to protect investors. It holds its members to high ethical standards and investigates complaints and problems brought by consumers against brokers and other investment professionals. FINRA has a tool, BrokerCheck, which you can use to research the background of the financial professional that you want to work with. You'll get a report and can review any complaints made against the certified financial planner. 

Tip #2 - Face to Face Interview

Don't make your decision based on a phone call alone. Meet with the advisor in person to help you get a feel for whether this is the right person to help you manage your finances. You don't want to rely on your instincts during the meeting to make your final decision. Before you walk into the interview you should have done your research and decided whether this person has the experience, professionalism and knowledge to work with you.

Tip #3 - Work with Experienced Planners

You don't want to be the client who is training an inexperienced certified financial planner. They may make mistakes, and even though they are insured, you don't want to go through the pain of losing some of your assets. There is no magic number of years in the profession when you try to make your determination whether the planner has enough experience. A good start is to find someone who has advised clients for at least three to five years and has helped a significant number of clients succeed with their financial goals, even when the economy was in a downturn.

Tip #4 - Avoid Planners that Sell Products

Experts argue on this point, and you have to make your own decision. Everyone can agree that a certified financial planner who also sells financial products will find it difficult to give unbiased advice on where to invest your money. You won't have that problem if you rely on the planner for advice only and buy investment products separately. It's ethical and legal for a planner to do both, but it may not be your best option when choosing a planner.

Ask family members and others you trust for recommendations of a good certified financial planner. Personalized information and recommendations are even more important than online research and reviews.

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