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October is National Financial Planning Month

October is National Financial Planning Month

October 01, 2021

Five tips to finding a financial professional that fits you and your family

The financial professional you pick to manage your assets and advise you on key financial decisions may affect your retirement and other major financial goals more, maybe, than even you. Make the right choice.

When trying to find a financial professional, you may ask your attorney or accountant for a referral. Makes sense, as you might trust their advice.

Just as important, these individuals may cross-pollinate with the financial professionals of many clients, so often they know a variety of financial professionals and who might fit best with you.

Asking people you trust ranks high on the list of steps to finding a suitable financial professional. Your vetting can’t end there, though. Here are five more considerations:

What Type of Financial Professional Do You Want?

Are you looking for someone to just manage your investments or do you want more comprehensive financial planning?

Some financial professionals integrate tax, estate and retirement planning into services, as well as investment management.

Consult Financial Professional Lists

While there is no perfect ranking, these lists can provide the names of most well-known financial professionals in the industry.

There will be lots of results if you search for “Top Financial Professional Lists” and each list is compiled with different criteria. And while not perfect, of course, it can be a good place to start.

Look at a Firm’s Website

Ultimately a marketing tool of each firm, a website is also useful to see how well prospective financial professionals communicate with clients.

Do they use financial jargon or explain financial concepts in plain English? Clearly explain services and how they work with clients? Does the overall presentation on their site stand out in some way? What does your gut say?


You need to know how any financial professional you might engage makes their money. Does their advice depend on your best interest or on a potentially hefty commission? You may not immediately spot some fees and commissions, so it’s important to ask.

Generally, there are three types of financial professionals:

  • Fee-only: These fiduciaries don’t earn commissions or other fees on the investments they recommend. Instead they charge an annual fee, typically a percentage of the assets they manage for you, a flat fee for services or sometimes both.
  • Registered representatives: The term “stockbroker” is not used much anymore, but registered reps can earn commissions on investments or insurance products they recommend. They are not fiduciaries, meaning they only need to recommend investments suitable for you, whereas fiduciaries must act exclusively in your best interest.
  • Independent or dually registered: These professionals can charge a fee for managing assets and make commissions on investment or insurance products they recommend. Ask what commissions they receive and if they receive rebates from mutual fund companies in the form of marketing fees.

Meet Them

You can learn much more about a financial professional during a meeting. Do they ask questions to better understand what you want from a planning relationship? Do they follow a pre-determined agenda or presentation or are they interested in knowing what’s important to you?

When you do meet with a potential financial professional, make sure you come prepared with questions. You might want to know how often the financial professional communicates with you and how, as well as how they develop investment strategies or what expertise they have in tax or estate planning.

Your choice of a financial professional has the potential to affect the quality of your money decisions. Carefully vet financial professionals and their firms and these suggestions may very well help you find the financial professional most suitable for you and your family.


Important Disclosures


Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. No investment strategy or risk management technique can guarantee return or eliminate risk in all market environments.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.

This article was prepared by RSW Publishing.


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