Straight Talk

How to find a financial advisor

Steps to find a financial advisor
Steps to find a financial advisor

Looking to avail yourself of a financial advisor's services but stumped as to how to pick one?

Who better to tell you what to look for than a financial advisor himself?

"I believe there are four minimum requirements for anyone you're considering working with," said Tim Maurer, certified financial planner and director of personal finance at Buckingham and The BAM Alliance.

First, your prospective advisor needs to be educated. "Financial planning is a very broad discipline," he said. "It's not just about investments, it's not just about insurance—it's about an array of topics that also includes taxes and estate planning."

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Second, check an advisor's credentials. A "certified financial planner," or CFP, designation is a good indication an advisor knows what he or she is doing. Next, advisors should have at least five years' experience, said Maurer, "but I like 10 or 15, especially because they will already have been through multiple serious financial crises."

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Lastly, make sure the advisor operates under a "fiduciary" standard. A fiduciary has a legal and regulatory obligation to act in a client's best interest at all times. "Would you believe ... that not all advisors have made that commitment?" asked Maurer.

"Do your homework," he adds. "Make sure that you find the right financial advisor for you."