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Jeruba's avatar

How do you find a financial consultant, and how do you choose one?

Asked by Jeruba (46367points) June 8th, 2009

I don’t really like money and have never paid much attention to financial matters. Now I am suddenly rather close to retirement (closer than I was a week ago by a big jump) and have to understand some things.

I would like to talk to someone who can help me grasp the picture, understand the implications and consequences, and help guide my choices. I want to talk to someone who has no financial interest in my decisions and no stake in persuading me toward any particular course of action.

What is the best way to look for someone like that, and how do I judge their ability?

Friends are all declining to recommend the services they use and saying they are considering making a change. Maybe they are unfairly blaming their advisors for inauspicious events of the past year, which aren’t their fault, but in any case word of mouth is not helping me. And our tax preparers only do taxes.

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7 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisers can help you locate the registered advisers in your area. As to vetting them, well, I guess you have to do the usual—asking around, checking references, etc. But financial planning isn’t that difficult. There are a few pretty basic rules about changing your investment allocations and insurance (or giving it up) and when to buy nursing home insurance (if ever). Jane Bryant Quinn’s book is very helpful in all of this.

Jeruba's avatar

Good advice, @daloon. Thank you. I am following up on both recommendations.

mattbrowne's avatar

Number one factor: trust!

If you know someone really well who knows a good financial adviser… my adviser is my sister in law. I trust her.

Jeruba's avatar

@mattbrowne, that was the first thing I tried. Everyone I know who uses a financial advisor said, in effect, “Well, I could give you a name, but I’m not very happy and am thinking of making a change.” I think a lot of people are looking for a scapegoat for the larger mess that none of us created.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Jeruba – Do you mean by larger mess the worldwide financial crisis?

Jeruba's avatar

Yes. From the way I heard them talk, somehow they seem to think that despite what’s happened, their own personal portfolios should not have gone down, so their advisors must be no good.

We did find someone I think we will like working with. We spent a lot of time with him before we decided—about 4 hours in two meetings—and sent him follow-up questions and talked to all his references. We’re about to sign the contract. I hope that if anyone asks us, we’ll be able to say we’re very happy.

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