How to Find the Best Financial Planner

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Are you using the best financial planner?

The answer to this question is simple.  If your financial adviser’s name is Neal Frankle, you’ve hired the right one.  If not, you haven’t.  😉

All kidding aside, adjacent many highly qualified financial advisers will always be a fair number of numskulls – which is why you need to arm yourself  with the proper tools and skills to ensure you hire the best financial planner – if you need to hire one at all.

The first thing to understand is that financial planners and advisers don’t get much formal training on how to serve you.  Insurance agents learn how to sell insurance. Stock brokers learn how to sell whatever it is they think you’ll buy.  Financial planners learn how to sell financial plans – but nobody teaches us how to serve you – we are left to learn that on our own… sad but true.

Learning how to become a financial planner is easy, but learning how to help people plan their finances is an entirely different can of peas!

So how do you hire the right financial adviser?

In my opinion, there are 3 steps:

1. Know what you want.

If you need insurance, make sure you understand what you need.  Get quotes and talk to agents – they’ll educate you for free, and you don’t need a planner for that.  You can also find out how much life insurance you need by doing a little leg work on the good ole Internet.

If, however, you want an overall plan or want to know how to invest for retirement, a financial planner might be just the ticket.

2. Understand the game.

Without going into a long-winded post chocked full of technical jargon, suffice it to say that you should seek out independent advice. Which you will not get from an insurance agent or stock broker.  Sure, everyone wants your money, but if you get yourself an independent adviser, at least you have fewer people trying to get into your pockets.

To better understand, consider the following.

Advisers who work for huge firms have lots of layers of managers who also need to get paid. Who pays them?  You do.  They often strong-arm their salespeople to sell the highest commission product they can in order to create the greatest profit for their firm.  That’s big business.

As a disclaimer, I am an independent planner.  I don’t like the big firms because I used to work for a few of them and I know what goes on.  That said, there are also a number of wonderful people working in these large firms who really do care about their clients and strive to take good care of them, but they are still under the thumb of the company structure.

But as a rule, I advise people to stay away from the large firms.

3. Ask the right questions.

Even if you get the first steps wrong, if you get this step right you’ll be fine… so pay careful attention.

It’s critical that you ask your candidates the right questions.

Here are 24 questions I highly suggest you ask:

  1. How long have you been an adviser? (Hint – you don’t want to be this person’s first client)
  2. Do you work on commissions? (Hint – you’re looking for a “NO” here)
  3. How do you make your investment decisions?
  4. Do any companies pay you a larger commission or fee to represent their products?
  5. Do you have any complaints against you or your firm?
  6. Who would I check this out with?
  7. What kind of clients do you specialize in? Why?
  8. Why do you think it makes most sense for me to work with you rather than someone else?
  9. Describe your best client?
  10. Describe your worst client?
  11. Have you ever been sued?
  12. How is your credit rating?
  13. Are you willing to show me your investment statements?
  14. What’s most important to you about your work?
  15. Why did you get into this business?
  16. Where do you see yourself in 10 or 20 years?
  17. What happens to my account if something happens to you?
  18. Do you have access to my money?
  19. How am I safeguarded?
  20. Do I have any say as to how the money will be invested?
  21. Besides investment services, what else will you do for me?
  22. How often will we meet?
  23. What will we talk about besides investments?
  24. What is your investment strategy? Why?

Going into a meeting prepared with a list of questions like these, will you determine if the financial planner is qualified to handle your finances.

If you are knowledgeable… get involved and comment

What are some other questions someone should ask a potential adviser? How would you hire an adviser if you were looking for one? What else would you do?

Along with being a great friend of mine, Neal Frankle is also a Certified Financial Planner who loves helping people improve their financial situation and increase overall contentment.  Find more from Neal on Wealth Pilgrim.

Betterment is one of my two favorite ways to earn interest on my savings! They have an awesome program for the Average Joe to save and invest simply and effectively. There are no minimum balance requirements and no transaction fees. Read my Betterment Review or open an account to get started earning now.

1 Jenna

I haven’t hired a financial planner yet. However, I do ask my parent’s financial planner for advice as well as a couple of my friend’s who are more knowledgeable than me. I think when I have more money and investments I would hire one.

2 Matt Jabs

That’s a solid plan. My cousin is an FP, and being a PF writer has helped me build relationships with many other FPs who are always very helpful. Other than that I just read and focus more on debt and liquid savings for now.

3 Neal

Hey Matt,

Thanks for the opportunity to post on your MOST AWESOME blog. This is indeed an honor.

4 Matt Jabs

Anytime my friend… anytime!

5 Olivia

I appreciate both you and Neal Frankle.

We recently saw a financial advisor and were very pleased with the results. He did suggest products he got commissions on as well as options he gets nothing for. I came into the process with a lot of trepidation, as money has always been tight. He did considerable research and tailored his counsel to our situation. He exposed us to options we had never considered and encouraged a less rigid category driven mindset about money. Now there is hope there will be something for retirement (DV), when before there was none.

6 Matt Jabs

Awesome Olivia, finding a good FP is like finding a good mechanic or computer repair guy… one of those relationships you’ll want to hang onto. Congrats.

7 Olivia

We are grateful. As a believer he’s also encouraged us spiritually. When someone sees your finances that intimately, they can understand heart motives and address issues, like, “Who do you really trust?”.

8 Matt Jabs

Precisely… which makes a professional contact like him priceless. That’s awesome.

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