How to Find the Right Investment Advisor for You
So you’ve decided you want to hire an investment advisor, but you still don’t know which particular type is suitable for you. Now we go to the challenging part – finding that advisor who is competent and sincere at the same time. Then again, you will find many types of financial advisors. How can you tell which one is the best fit for you? You can start by considering the volume and kinds of services you need.
If your needs are very basic, you may benefit from working with a brokerage firm, which is usually paid with reasonable commissions. But take note that brokers are only required to practice what is known as a suitability standard of care, meaning they can only sell or suggest investment types that are right for the client and their financial goals. This includes no legal obligation to recommend the best or most profitable investments. This is exactly one of the reasons you need to do your research before hiring a financial advisor.
Certified Financial Planners (CFP)
Certified Financial Planners (CFP) are finance professionals who have passed all the requirements of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, which includes passing a comprehensive board exam and having minimum experience. Additionally, CFPs have to take ongoing courses to maintain status. CFPs are knowledgeable in various areas of financial planning, such as retirement, taxes, insurance, and the like.
Registered Investment Advisor (RIA)
If you need investment advice and regular financial planning services, hire a Registered Investment Adviser. Such professionals are paid solely by the client, who is you, and they will only propose investments (for example, low-cost index funds, ETFs, etc.) that are perfectly aligned with your needs.
They are also required to follow a fiduciary standard of care, which is more complex than the suitability standard of a broker. In short, an RIA is legally required to promote and protect the interests of the client. You will pay continuing fees to the RIA, but if you choose a good one, you can reduce your expenses with low-cost mutual funds, which are known to be the best-performing funds.
Insurance Agents and Bankers
Insurance agents and bankers are neither investment advisors nor financial planners; however, they may be allowed to sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and similar investment products. Also, they can serve as financial planning consultants.
Finally, whichever advisor or planner you hire, it is smart to choose one who is certified. Also seek referrals from friends, colleagues or anyone you trust, or read client reviews only before you decide whom to hire.