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Consumer How To Choose Guide 2015

Dalton Daily CItizen, Dalton Magazine

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60 The Daily Citizen ◆ HOW TO CHOOSE GUIDE 2015 A great financial planner will teach you how to manage household expenses, pay the lowest taxes possible and how to plan for retirement. Not everyone has the same financial goals. A good advisor will help you plan for your future. You don't need to be rich to have a financial advisor. These professionals are trained to help you become rich, or at least use your money wisely. Financial advisors will also tell you about handling investments. They can guide you through unstable economic times. To find a reliable financial advisor, start by asking your social network. Friends and family may have some sug- gestions. Research online for advisors in your area. Your local newspaper will like- ly have advertisements for local advisors. Remember to research each advisor with an eye toward your own situation and goals. Once you have a list of three or four possibilities; look closer at each choice. It might be a good idea to pick a financial advisor who is a certified financial plan- ner. Someone with certification has com- pleted specialized training and passed rig- orous exams. Once you have discovered each advi- sor's qualifications, contact the certifying organizations to find out if there have been any complaints against each profes- sional. If so, find out how the complaints were resolved. You can request a list of satisfied clients who have goals comparable to yours. Contact them to talk about their experiences. Areas of expertise Financial products can contribute to your well-being and peace of mind. Some common investing tools include bonds, mutual funds, stocks and commodities. Weighing risk is essential. Some prod- ucts will undoubtedly be better for your portfolio than others. An experienced financial advisor can customize a portfolio especially for you. You can also do some research to find a segment of the market that might be a good fit for your situation. Then look for an advisor who specializes in that invest- ment. For example, if you want to invest in commodities, your potential advisor should have experience in that market. Rate of success Success rate will also play a prominent role in your decision. Look at the rate of success for each advisor. Has the rate of return on his recommendations outpaced the average market rate of return over time? An advisor with a solid rate of return conducts research to strengthen his clients' portfolios. During tough or stagnant economic times, experience will play a vital role. Has your advisor weathered previous eco- nomic slowdowns? Do clients thrive in bleak environments? Or have clients taken multiple hits to their portfolios? You should be wary if clients appear to be doing too good during tough times. Someone with an extraordinary success rate might be too good to be true. Fees or commissions Inquire about how your advisor is paid for services. Most offer fee-based or com- mission-based services. It will greatly influence your selection. A commission-based advisor is prone to suggesting financial products that offer a professional commission. It could need- lessly increase your exposure to risk. Only use a commission-based advisor if he or she has a proven track record of success and also has your best interest in mind. When you need someone who puts your best interests first, go with a fee- based advisor. He or she will be compen- sated only for the time spent on serving your portfolio. Interview Once you have narrowed your prospects to two or three possibilities, schedule a meeting with each professional. During this consultation, communicate your goals hon- estly and clearly. A financial planner should be someone who will guide and inform you. He or she will continually increase your knowledge about your current finan- cial situation and how to improve it. Put it in writing Once you have narrowed your list to one or two advisors; ask each to write a plan for moving you from where you are to where you want to be. Get a written copy of this proposal. This document should have your short- term and long-term goals, and also state who else will profit from the proposal. This plan should be written clearly so you completely understand it. Once everything has been completed to your satisfaction, you can choose a finan- cial advisor. Then you can comfortably relax and know that your money and future are in good hands. H OW TO CHOOSE A FINANCIAL WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW k j A good financial planner will help you determine your goals and plan for the future. Different products carry different levels of risk, and an advisor can help you decide what fits best. k j Success rates say a lot about a financial advisor. Normal ups and downs can be expected depending on the times, but an overall good rate is best. You can ask for a written copy of a long term proposal to help you make the best decision. ADVISOR

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