If your needs are more specific, some other financial professionals to consider are a Registered Investment Adviser who is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or a state securities regulator to manage investment portfolios; a Chartered Financial Consultant, who specialize in insurance and estate planning; and a Certified Public Accountant, who can help with tax planning.
Be leery of many other financial advising titles, designations and certifications that are out there, like the Certified Financial Consultant or Wealth Management Specialist. Many of these require no more than a few courses at a seminar or online, which means they’re not worth much.
You can read more about nearly every certification or designation at finra.org/investors — click on “Tools & Calculators,” then on “Understanding Investment Professional Designations.”
How to choose: After you find a few candidates in your area, call them up and schedule an appointment to meet and interview them. Find out about their experience, expertise and the types of services they provide; how they charge and how much; what is their investment philosophy; and how will they handle your ongoing questions or financial needs.
Look for someone whose clients are in situations similar to yours and who’s available as often as you need them.
It’s also wise to do a background check on your potential advisor. You can look up firms and individuals at finra.org or sec.gov and even check state financial regulation departments (see nasaa.org for state contact information) and Better Business Bureau records at bbb.org.
Also, ask to see the advisor’s ADV Form, part 2. This is a form that the SEC requires advisors to list their education, services, fees, disciplinary actions and conflicts of interest.
At the end of your meeting, ask yourself: Do I like this person? If you have any reservations, move on. There are plenty of qualified advisors out there who can help you.