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Picking A Financial Planner

Feel free to use this tip sheet / checklist as you tackle your own ""do-it-yourself"" organizing projects. If you would like to REPRINT or DISTRIBUTE this information, please click here for reprinting instructions.


  • ask for a resume or CV
  • look for a college degree in accounting, finance, business, or law
  • ask how long the advisor has been in business
  • look for at least 10 years of experience


  • there is no licensing for financial planners
  • look for a Certified Financial Planner designation
  • must be registered as an investment advisor with the SEC
  • ask for the advisor's CRD number (Central Registration Depository)
  • use this number to contact the National Association of Securities Dealers
  • 1-800-289-9999 or visit their website at www.nasdr.com
  • ask for a free report of employment background and any previous problems
  • ask for five references you may contact


  • ask about your advisor's investment philosophy
  • which investment vehicles he / she prefers and why
  • criteria for choosing investments (track record, fund manager, etc.)
  • interpretation of past performance when evaluating stocks and bonds
  • what kind of research the advisor does on new products
  • philosophies and practices relating to risk-tolerance
  • specialized focus (certain professions, incomes, family composition, etc.)
  • how frequently you will meet (should be at least quarterly)


  • commission based get paid when they sell financial products
  • can also make money whenever they trade for you (buy or sell)
  • earn a percentage of the transaction or of your investment balance
  • tend to spend less time planning for your future
  • may suggest more costly investment vehicles
  • flat fee means the advisor is paid only for his / her advice
  • do not make money when you buy or sell
  • no conflict of interest and more attention to what you really need


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