Financial Planning

7 Important Steps to Finding the Right Financial Adviser for You

Make sure you're working with financial professionals who understand your ultimate goals and know how to get you there in the most efficient way possible

Imagine reading a good book. You invest time and emotion into the book wondering how it will turn out. There are ups and downs along the way, but you remain hopeful based upon some authorial promises that all will turn out well for the protagonist. Near the end, though, you get this feeling the author will have to "pull a rabbit out of his hat" to make everything work out.

If this is the book of your financial life, don't read to the end only to find it terribly disappointing. Instead, find a financial adviser who knows the ending you long for and can help you write the story you want to live.

Below are seven steps to confirm you are with the right adviser or lead you to a new one who is right for you.

1. Make Sure Your Priorities Are Aligned

When preparing for retirement, you and your financial adviser should be on the same page. Search for trustworthy, experienced and credentialed professionals who focus on providing strategies and services that may help you become more confident in your retirement income planning. The right professionals can provide the guidance and solid, objective judgment needed to help you achieve your financial goals.

2. Ask Questions

With an abundance of financial vehicles available, each boasting different features, don't be afraid to investigate and ask difficult questions. Seek to understand the details, benefits and restrictions for all of your options, and decide whether they are acceptable to you. When considering the financing of your future, there is no such thing as having too much information.

3. Understand the Fees You Are Paying

As a consumer, you deserve to understand how your financial adviser is compensated as well as any associated costs and fees. Regardless of which financial vehicle you choose, you pay fees one way or another. However, you may be able to lower fees through a variety of methods. Before you do anything, know what you are currently paying!

An investment fee analysis can show you precisely how much you're currently spending in annual fees on your portfolio.

4. Approach Online Resources With Caution

The internet contains a wealth of information—but is it credible? It depends. Evaluate credibility by reading the site's "About Us" page and looking at the page's URL. If it ends in .org or .edu—extensions used by nonprofit organizations and educational institutions—it might be considered more reputable than others.

But remember, nothing can replace the value of a team of trustworthy, experienced professionals recognized for their work in financial services and specifically in retirement income planning.

5. Study Their Education

To help you assess just how well-versed your potential financial professional team is, ask how they invest in their education. Beware of financial professionals who simply pass an exam to earn a designation and never commit to ongoing education beyond that point. Consider a financial professional who regularly engages in industry-specific training and takes courses to stay current on financial products and strategies designed for today's fast-paced and volatile income world.

6. Look for Experience

Of course, no single person can know everything, so it's important to have a well-organized team of professionals help you plan for retirement. Your team might include a CPA or qualified tax professional, an estate planning attorney, a Registered Investment Adviser or Investment Adviser Representative and a licensed insurance agent.

You should also check whether each person has experience in income planning for retirees and pre-retirees. A financial strategy for the asset accumulation phase is very different from planning for lifelong retirement income. Once you're near retirement, it isn't a bad idea to make sure your adviser focuses on retirement income planning.

7. Get a Second Opinion

If you have any concerns about your current financial professional or insurance agent—and his or her advice—look for other options. Even if you've worked with these people for years, they may not be experienced specifically in creating tax-efficient retirement income plans that use the least amount of your savings to produce the optimal amount of lifetime income.

Your financial adviser should be committed to the financial success and confidence of each and every client served and should help you feel confident about your future.

Robert E. Grace, insurance professional, author and Fox News radio host, has more than 45 years of experience with his firm providing estate, retirement and tax planning for individuals and companies.

Grace Tax Advisory Group, LLC, is an independent financial services firm, helping individuals create retirement strategies using a variety of investment and insurance products. Investment Advisory Services offered through Grace Capital Management Group LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor.

Steve Post contributed to this article.

About the Author

Robert E. Grace, JD, CLU, ChFC, CFEd, RFC, Master Elite IRA Advisor

Founder and President, Grace Tax Advisory Group, LLC

Financial professional, author and Fox News radio show host Robert E. Grace, JD, CLU, ChFC, CFEd, RFC, has more than 45 years of experience providing estate, tax and retirement planning for individuals and companies. With specialized training by nationally acclaimed tax expert, Ed Slott, CPA, Grace is an accredited "Master Elite IRA Advisor®." His multi-disciplinary team at Grace Tax Advisory Group specializes in wealth preservation with secure retirement income solutions that minimize tax exposure.

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