Ask Money

Finding a financial planner

Chris Farrell Apr 16, 2010

Question: I often hear on your show that we should find a good financial advisor who is independent. It seems that most of the advisors are associated with a large corporation. Is there a place to find independent advisors? Thank you. Stephen, Grand Rapids, MI

Answer: There are a number of ways to find a financial planner. I favor working with Certified Financial Planner (CFP). It indicates that the planner has experience, education, passed an examination, and is required to adhere to a code of ethics. I also think a fee-based planner is best for most people.

There simply aren’t as many conflicts of interest. You also want to do business with a planner that has many clients in similar financial circumstances as yours.

The drawback is that this approach isn’t cheap. But if you really need to work with a planner I also believe its the most effective.

The best place to start is by talking with friends and colleagues. Try to be specific with what you are looking for. Ask them to be specific with you about what they like about their planner. If you have advisors who are not in the business of financial planning, ask them for recommendations. You can also get names from the websites of the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, and the Garrett Planning Network.

I’ve written a fair amount about financial planners–and whether you need one in the first place–on the Getting Personal site. So, take a look at some other posts. Also, I deal with the topic in my book, The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More and Live Better.

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