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How to Find a Good Financial Planner

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There are a lot of articles on the internet about how to find a financial adviser. Frequently, these articles suggest getting references from a financial planner; however, I recommend getting references from people you know instead. 

Think of the prospective employee who provides three references to their prospective employer. They’d be crazy not to offer up people who will say something good about them!  

Those references may or may not be valuable in your quest for the right financial adviser. However, if someone you know, respect and trust happens to recommend an adviser they feel really good about, you definitely should look into that individual and their service offerings.

Start in Stealth Mode

I also encourage you to do your initial research in stealth mode. With the internet, we can do a lot of research online and find out about the background of a potential financial partner, their target market, articles they've written or been quoted in, and so on, all in the quiet comfort of our own home or office. 

But where do these names come from that you want to research online (beyond people you know)? Some great resources that I frequently recommend include: 

  • www.CFP, 
  • the Financial Planning Association at and 
  • the Garrett Planning Network at  

Send Prospective Advisors Our Questionnaire

One of the documents I offer is a financial adviser questionnaire. This generic form can be useful to obtain valuable information about the adviser you are considering prior to your first conversation, or it can be used as an agenda when talking to a prospective adviser over the phone or in-person.

I prefer e-mailing the questionnaire to the adviser, and asking them to complete the questionnaire and return it by e-mail in a week. 

When you receive the responses, you will have a lot more information about:

  • how they work,
  • what types of services they provide and specialize in, 
  • their educational and experiential background, 
  • whether they have asset or net worth minimums and 
  • to what degree they may assist you in the saving/investment implementation process. 

I find the questionnaire to be an efficient tool, while being respectful of a prospective advisor’s time. For instance, if you find out from a simple question that can be answered over e-mail that this individual would not be an appropriate fit for you, or you for them, it would be great to know that up front before any additional time has been invested. 

Get Acquainted Before Making a Commitment

Once you get the questionnaire(s) back, I encourage you to call the respondees and visit with them briefly over the telephone. If you find an adviser seems very personable, you're communicating well and they seem to ask the type of questions that resonate with you, the next step is to schedule an initial interview, which I call a “get-acquainted” meeting. 

Nearly all financial planners offer an initial meeting, either over the phone or in person, at no charge. If the adviser does charge for this initial meeting, they should tell you over the telephone when you call initially.

Find Out How They are Paid

Financial advisers may be employees, independent contractors or self-employed individuals. Often, you will find an employee working for a bank, insurance company, brokerage or mutual fund company. Independent contractors can also be affiliated with any of these types of companies. 

Many financial advisers work for themselves and may or may not have any affiliation with a broker/dealer or insurance company. Why does it matter? See our upcoming blog “The Pros and Cons of Financial Advisers Paid in Commissions, Fees and Hourly Rates.”

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This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Kelly Financial Planning. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.