Bigger Isn’t Always Better When It Comes to Financial Advice

Here’s why a smaller, independent adviser could be a better fit for your retirement-planning needs than the big-name institutions.

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For an individual investor, finding the right financial professional can be a challenge.

To start with, there’s the bewildering array of titles, including broker, adviser, planner, manager and even coach.

And then there’s all those letters (RIA, CFP, CFA and so on) and numbers (Series 6, 7, 65 and 66) that represent certifications and licenses.

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By the time they get to the method of compensation (fee-only, fee-based or commission) and the fiduciary vs. suitability discussion, the majority of the people I meet have no idea what it all means. It’s no wonder so many simply opt for the brand-name brokerage they see on TV instead of the small independent adviser who might be the better choice.

But when you go with Wall Street instead of Main Street, you lose a few things:

Unfortunately, we’re kind of stuck in this David vs. Goliath mode in the financial industry, where the average person on the street doesn’t even know there are different levels of advice and attention.

A lot of that is marketing. All those radio and TV commercials, the golf tournament sponsorships and stadium-naming rights build a brand and get the word out in a way that an independent adviser can’t afford.

But when it comes to minding your portfolio and your plan, bigger isn’t always better.

Do your homework. Research online. Ask friends and colleagues if they have an adviser they like. Attend seminars. Don’t hesitate to quiz people about compensation. And interview multiple advisers until you find one that’s a good fit for you.

Kim Franke-Folstad contributed to this article.

Megan Clark is not affiliated with, or endorsed by


This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

Megan Clark, Investment Adviser Representative
CEO & Executive Wealth Manager, Clark and Associates Inc. Financial Solutions

Megan Clark is CEO & Executive Wealth Manager at Clark & Associates Inc. Financial Solutions and is an Investment Adviser Representative and Insurance Professional. As a financial adviser, she is passionate about helping families create a holistic financial plan, and she often holds "For Women By Women" informational seminars to reach out and help assist women in pursuing their goals. Clark is a graduate of the University of Virginia. Investment Advisory services offered through Brighter Financial Capital Management LLC, a SEC Registered Investment Adviser. 

Securities offered only by duly registered individuals through Madison Avenue Securities, LLC. (MAS), Member FINRA & SIPC. Advisory services offered only by duly registered individuals through Brighter Financial Capital Management, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Clark & Associates, Inc. Financial Solutions, Brighter Financial Capital Management, LLC and MAS are not affiliated entities.