Choosing a financial advisor is a big deal, and we want you to be 100% comfortable with the process. Being a fiduciary means looking out for a client's best interests. And for us that means that we're on your side, even before you sign up with us. There's never any sales pressure from us, and if we're not the right fit, we'll refer you to someone else who is. After all, choosing a good advisor is an important step in making sure your future is financially secure. Take your time and do it right.
Do I need a financial advisor?
We only work with people who want an ongoing relationship with a financial planner. Sometimes that's overkill for your situation. If your only question is "How do I set up my first IRA?", then you probably don't need a financial advisor.
If your question is "How do I invest my inheritance to minimize fees and expenses?" then you might benefit from hiring an advisor. We would take a look at your situation and see if you really needed ongoing advice or not.
If your question is "How do we retire in five years with two IRAs and an HSA and a handful of 401ks that we haven't rolled over, and what are RMDs anyway and when do we have to take them, and when should we take Social Security to maximize the benefits, and how does Medicare work, and when do we need to revise our trust, and should we keep our rental property or sell it?", well then, you probably should hire an advisor yesterday and start working on your financial plan!
How do I choose a financial advisor?
The first thing you should do is find some advisors near you and make a short list of possible advisors. We recommend interviewing 3 or so different advisors to see which one fits you best. Some important things to consider when making your list:
- Credentials. Anyone can call themselves a "financial advisor", but the most important credential is the CFP® mark. This credential means that the advisor has completed a full financial planning course of study at an approved college or university. They must pass the incredibly difficult CFP® Certification Exam. They must have a minimum of three years' experience in financial planning. And they are held to the highest ethical standard in the business: they are legally required to put their clients' best interest above their own.
- Services. Some planners only focus on investment management, but we think that's a relatively minor part of the financial planning process. Depending on what you need, you should ask if the advisor also provides tax planning and preparation services, insurance or Medicare reviews, Social Security analysis, home purchase or retirement readiness reviews, and college planning services.
- Fiduciary duty and fee-only status (as opposed to "commission-based" or "fee-based"). Only a fiduciary advisor is required to act in your best interest at all times. And fee-only advisors can only accept payment from you, the client. They don't get paid with commssions for selling products, and they can't accept any kickbacks or gifts for referrals.
Where can I search for a Certified Financial Planner?
The CFP® website has a search tool to find a certified financial planner near you. You could also use the NAPFA (National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) Find an Advisor site that searches for fee-only advisors.
What should I look for in a financial advisor when I interview them?
We like the CFP®'s Ten Key Questions to Ask When Choosing an Advisor. NAPFA also has their own guide to choosing a financial planner as well as a super-comprehensive checklist with a ton of questions to ask (and an answer key in case you don't know what you should be looking for). Feel free to print out any questions and bring them along to the interview.
How do I schedule an interview?
Give us a call at 831-421-0700 right now if you have some time to chat. If you want to talk later, schedule a time with us so we can make sure we're free. Or just leave your information below and we'll get back to you within a day or two: