Where to Search for a Financial Adviser

Financial Planning

Where to Search for a Financial Adviser

How to connect

Recommendations from family members or friends are a great starting point, but remember that you're doing the hiring and may have different priorities. You might also pick a few candidates at random through locators at the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors or a specialized group, such as Garrett Planning Network, whose members work on an as-needed hourly basis.

You might have a head start if you are close to someone who has been in the field for a while. Eric Richman, of Peabody, Mass., knew John Carnevale, president of Sentinel Financial Group, in nearby Reading, Mass., for years. But Richman didn't do business with Carnevale until he realized that his two daughters' future college costs were escalating faster than the returns on his savings accounts.

Richman sought guidance from Carnevale about how to protect their college money while earning returns more closely matched to tuition inflation. With Carnevale's help, he was able to find higher-paying certificates of deposit. He replaced his life insurance with term coverage at lower premiums, which freed up more cash to add to the girls' savings. In addition, Richman shifted some of the mutual funds in his IRA.

Richman, 45, is a vice-president of a telecommunications company. He doesn't know much about investments and isn't even sure what he's paying Sentinel -- it's 1% of his assets. He doesn't expect an immediate bump in his IRA's performance.


What he wants -- and thinks is well worth paying for -- is personal attention. That's usually the deal-cincher for people who hire financial advisers. The social-networking world is even starting to grade individual advisers on intangibles, such as responsiveness, ethics and whether they provide simple solutions.

In Berkeley, Cal., for example, you can find plenty of comments about financial planners on (of all places) the Berkeley Parents Network. It would be a snap to compile a list of ten advisers and make appointments with five of them. There are worse ways to delve into an unfamiliar world.