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You Know You Need a Financial Planner. But How Do You Choose?

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Only a minority of Americans (30%) have a long-term financial plan, and even fewer (25%) have that plan written down. 

The National Financial Educators Council estimates that up to $415 billion in personal wealth is lost every year from missed investment growth and credit card fees. 

Most people know they need a plan to start saving and investing as soon as possible. But how can you find someone trustworthy? 

Talk to Friends and Family

Chances are, there are people in your circle who already have a financial adviser. Ask them what they like and don’t like about their adviser, how they work together, and what it costs. But don’t stop there. Get to know potential financial partners before you make any decisions. 

Do Research

You can glean a lot of info about an adviser over the internet. Before you even call anyone, look them up online to see their background, investment philosophy, size of their firm, credentials, etc. 

If you don’t have any names to start with, you can find financial professionals in your area at,, or

Ask Questions

At Kelly Financial Planning, we have a questionnaire we recommend prospective clients use when considering a financial adviser. We encourage potential clients to give us and competitors the questionnaire so they can compare answers.

 Here are some of the questions on the questionnaire: 

  • Why did you become a financial planner?
  • What is your educational and professional background in financial planning?
  • What are your credentials, designations and affiliations?
  • In what areas do you specialize?
  • What services do you provide?
  • Do you have a target market?
  • Are you a fiduciary?

There are more, but you get the idea. Before you engage with a financial adviser, you deserve to know who they are, how they work, and what they can do for you. 

Find Out How They are Compensated

There are several forms of monetary compensation for financial advisers. Some earn only commissions, others are paid a percentage of your assets, still others earn an hourly fee.  

  • Fee only means they charge a flat hourly rate for their services or a specific fee for each service
  • Others levy a fee based on a percentage of the assets the adviser manages for you
  • Those working on commission get paid by the mutual funds or other financial products they recommend

Get Acquainted

It is a good idea to speak on the phone, then meet in person with any professional you are planning to engage. See if you get a good vibe from them, feel they are competent, and have a personality that meshes with yours. Hopefully, this will be a long-term relationship; you want to get it right. 

Take Your Time

You may want to hire the first adviser you meet to get this decision out of the way, but resist that urge and give the choice the time it deserves. 

Choose a Fiduciary

A “fiduciary” is a financial services professional who is committed to putting their clients' interests first. They are required to avoid conflicts of interest, share potential conflicts of interest and provide all relevant facts to clients

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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.