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Expert Insights for Smart Financial Planning

5 Steps to Establishing Your Financial Plan With an Adviser

Be sure to ask about fees, get a signed copy of a fiduciary oath and communicate your personal goals.


Personal experience as an investment adviser has taught me that often people and advisers may not communicate very well when it comes to an understanding of financial planning. In some cases, the adviser may have to fill in the blanks using financial planning software. The client, who is expecting more of a life plan, may be disappointed to receive a 20-page report with plenty of graphs and recommendations to purchase products.

See Also: How to Find the Right Financial Adviser for You and Your Money

Here are five tips on how to go about your planning and come away with personal satisfaction that your goals are reasonable and attainable.

1. Find the right adviser for you.

Schedule in-person or online interviews with potential advisers. Ask if they are fiduciaries and how their planning process works and what can be expected. You should know and understand fully if your plan will be oriented to your life goals. Be aware that plenty of great advisers are not in large firms and are independently owned and small by design.

2. Ask about fees and the cost of planning.

A good adviser will be transparent with fees and explain how they are compensated. Look for an adviser that charges a fee that fits your budget. At my firm, we charge as little as $100 per month for planning that focuses on your life goals.


3. Get a signed oath.

When you're ready to commit, ask your chosen adviser for a signed copy of his or her fiduciary oath. This pledge will ensure that your adviser always puts your best interests first.

4. Communicate your personal and financial goals.

Great communications are fostered through understanding. Many advisers want to talk about retirement planning only and that may not make sense to you if you are 30 years old and still trying to eliminate college loans.

Focus on achieving your financial independence and creating a great life, as well as preparing for inevitable life events. If your goal is to own your own business, use your planning to address the business ownership topic. Great planners understand business planning.

5. Build a relationship with your adviser.

Good planning comes from a team approach with the adviser acting as your quarterback. Even once you establish a solid game plan, continue working together, communicating any changes that may arise and adjusting plans as necessary. Your relationship, just like your financial plan, should be for the long haul.


The best thing a person in need of counsel can do is actually schedule time with a financial planner and talk. Most planners offer free consultations; the worst thing that can happen is you waste an hour, but you could end up gaining invaluable insight from a pro.

See Also: What to Ask a Financial Adviser

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This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing expert, not the Kiplinger editorial staff.