Advisors can help guide you through planning and goal setting, including building your retirement savings, paying off debt, financing your children's education and setting up your estate.
If you need help learning about or choosing a financial advisor, here's what you need to know.
What does a financial advisor do?The primary role of a financial advisor is to help you set smart and realistic financial goals. They do that by looking at your financial needs, discussing your situation and providing professional advice. An advisor can help you with critical financial concerns that may include tax planning, insurance needs, retirement and estate planning — basically getting your financial house in order.
Keep in mind, this is different from a stockbroker, who is someone that buys and sells stocks for a commission. While many advisors are licensed to sell stocks, their primary focus is helping you with your financial planning and goals.
Many financial advisors are fully licensed to sell a variety of insurance products, such as long-term care insurance, disability and life insurance.
Choosing a financial advisor
There are lots of financial advisors out there and the search can be overwhelming. What you want to do is think about your needs, lifestyle and goals, and find an advisor who's the best fit. Here are a handful of things to consider about as you search:
- Your goals: Today, many advisors work with a particular type of client because they really understand their goals. For instance, if you're a woman in your 40s who is recently divorced, you might want to work with an advisor who has a number of clients just like you because you have different needs and goals than a married couples.
- Your comfort level: Think of an advisor as a long-term partner. You might work together for decades getting your retirement savings set. So, it's really important to feel a comfort level with your advisor as someone you want to build a relationship with for years to come.
- Ask questions: No question is too small when it comes to preparing for your financial future. You want to work with an advisor who is happy to field your questions and educate you on the topics where you feel a bit unsure.
- Seek out reviews: Go online and search for reviews of the advisors in your area and see what other people have to say, especially those in a similar position to you. Also, ask around. Your friends or family might have an advisor they love and can recommend.
- Pay structure: Typically, financial advisors earn their living from commissions, by charging hourly or flat rates for their services or via an asset-based advisory fee. Discuss these rates and fees with any potential advisors upfront so you understand how it works.
If you do your homework you can find an advisor who will be a great partner to help with financial planning for you and your family over the long term. Developing a relationship with an advisor who understands your needs and goals can help ensure your planning gets and stays on the right track.