Tips on Choosing a Financial Planner

From Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.

  1. Know what you want: Determine your general financial goals and/or specific needs (insurance policy analysis, estate planning, investment advice, college tuition financing, etc.) to better focus your search for a suitable financial planner.
  2. Be prepared: Read personal finance publications to maximize your familiarity with financial planning strategies and terminology.
  3. Talk to others: Get referrals from advisors you trust, from business associates and friends. Or contact one of the financial planning membership organizations for a referral to a financial planner in your area.
  4. Look for competence: A number of specialty designations exist in the financial planning and services arenas. Choose a financial planning professional with the certification that indicates that he or she is ethical and has met standards of financial planning competency, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification.
  5. Interview more than one planner: Ask the planners to describe their educational backgrounds, experience and specialties, the size and duration of their practice, how often they communicate with clients and whether an assistant handles client matters. Make sure you feel comfortable discussing your finances with the planner you select.
  6. Check the planner’s background: Depending on the financial planner’s area of expertise, call the securities or insurance departments in your state regarding each planner’s complaint record. Call CFP Board toll-free at 888-CFP-MARK to determine if a planner is currently authorized to use the CFP® certification marks or has ever been publicly disciplined by CFP Board.
  7. Know what to expect: Ask for a registration or disclosure statement (such as a Form ADV) detailing the planner’s compensation methods, conflicts of interest, business affiliations and personal qualifications.
  8. Get it in writing: Request a written advisory contract or engagement letter to document the nature and scope of services the planner will provide. You should also understand whether compensation will be fee or commission-based, or a combination of both.
  9. Re-assess the relationship regularly: Financial planning relationships are quite often long term. Review your professional relationship on a regular basis and ensure that your financial planner understands your goals and needs as they develop and change over time. If you have concerns regarding the conduct of your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER certificant, call CFP Board toll-free at 888-CFP-MARK and ask for a Complaint Package.

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If you would like information on CFP Board of Standards, this article or how to find a Certified Financial Planner (TM) in your area, please visit or call 1-888-CFP-MARK.