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Financial Planning

Getting the Best Financial Advice

Focus on your goals and the adviser who can get you there.

When you're hiring a financial adviser, you're not just hiring someone to manage your money. You're hiring someone who will influence your life, your future, your kids' lives and maybe even your parents' lives. If it takes a while to find the right person, be patient.

Many financial advisers are both amazed and horrified that potential clients would walk in cold to their offices or set up a 30-minute get-acquainted meeting and immediately hand over vats of money to be managed. "I can count on one hand the number of people who ask for references," says Michael Kalscheur, of Castle Wealth Advisors, in Indiana-polis. "Would you hire anyone for your business without a reference?"

In addition to asking for references, you need to ask yourself some questions before you even start your search. First and foremost is, why do you think you need an adviser, and what problem-solving skills and experience are necessary to meet your needs?

If you're interested in giving money away, for example, advisers who mainly try to increase their clients' investment accounts usually aren't a good fit. A law firm that specializes in estates and trusts would probably be a better match because it would be up to speed on changing tax laws. Once you've settled on your needs, concentrate on how best to find the right person or team.


Your Path to the Best Financial Advice:

Who Can Offer Financial Advice? A generation ago there were stock-brokers, life-insurance agents and, for the wealthy, bank-trust officers. Nowadays, the U.S. is swarming with planners and advisers of every stripe. Read more.

Identify What Kind of Financial Advice You Need Before you visit a potential adviser, think about your personal situation and how you'll present it. Read more.

How to Choose Among Financial Professionals Most people in search of an adviser want guidance and reassurance from someone they trust. And trust, after all, is the linchpin of a profitable relationship. Read more.

Where to Search for a Financial Adviser Recommendations from family members or friends are a great starting point, but remember that you're doing the hiring and may have different priorities. Read more.

What to Ask Your Financial Adviser You'll probably be asked in advance to submit a profile and answer a questionnaire about yourself. Once you arrive at an adviser's office, however, take charge firmly but politely. Read more.