How to Find a Financial Planner (for Non-Millionaires)


~posted by Ann G.

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Photo Credit: The Irish Labour Party

Getting your finances in order can seem daunting, especially if you are not wealthy.  You know that most of us are in very good company in wondering how to get good financial advice at lower (!) incomes if you consider that a household income of $450,000 a year puts you in the top 1% and many financial planners consider a portfolio “small” if it has less than half a million dollars in it!

However, getting a financial planner to help you IS doable.  First here are a few suggestions in articles from reputable sources, and then below those are some library resources that can help.

–Ask family and friends!  Word of mouth is powerful! (But then, be sure to still ask questions!)

–Be clear on what you want—do you need someone to guide and oversee you, or just to check in with?

–Check whether the planner works for fee or on commission (the latter can lead to conflicts of interest)

–Check whether the planner has fiduciary responsibility (they have to work to established standards)

–What is their licensing and current credentials?  Some people even do background checks!

–What is their experience and approach to planning?  Will they show you a sample plan?

–Are they OK with working with someone at your income level?

–Do they communicate well?  Do you get a good gut feeling about them?  Are they interested in you?

You can get leads and other good information through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, which only has fee-based advisors, and some sources also note the Garrett Planning Network, in which planners offer their services at lower fees.

Also think about taking a look at some of the content you’ll find in these FREE resources from the library!

Getting Started in Finding a Financial Advisor: This book will go into more depth about each of the suggestions listed above.  It stresses the importance of how to find someone you can trust, who will work with you in a respectful—and lucrative!—way.  And, it spells everything out in detail, so it’s good for someone who’s just starting to think about these issues.

Get Wise to Your Advisor: This book is written by someone who has his own investment company, so he has direct experience.  Along with advice on how to choose a great advisor, author Lockshin provides you with tools to calculate some of the numbers tailored to your situation, which will put you in an even stronger position when you finally get into an advisor!

Backstage Wall Street: An Insider’s Guide to Knowing Who to Trust, Who to Run From, and How to Maximize your Investments:  Author Joshua Brown spent 10 years in the financial services industry, and is committed to making sure that with information and tools to protect yourself you won’t fall prey to the shady practices underneath the Wall Street façade.

The 7 Most Important Equations for Your Retirement: The Fascinating People and Ideas Behind Planning your Retirement Income:  The blurb for this book calls it “Suze Orman meets Stephen Hawking”.  Intriguing!  Mainly, it aims at giving you control over your retirement funds as it shows you unique and scientific ways to think about enhancing them.  Some of the calculations here can be done with online tools, but if you are someone who wants to understand where the calculations came from and what they are doing, this book is for you!

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