How to Find a Fee-Only Financial Planner
The decision to use a financial planner is an important one, and it will require you to do some research before you can make a good decision. The reason is that there are more than 200,000 people in the U.S. alone that call themselves financial advisors1 — it can get confusing real fast. So how can you narrow down your choices in a methodical and educated way and ultimately choose the right financial planner for you?
Filtering the List of Financial Planners
Here are some tips that can be helpful when narrowing your list and selecting a financial planner that could work well with you:
- Comfort and Trust: Perhaps the most important questions to ask yourself is, “are you comfortable working with this person” and “do you trust this person”? If the answers are “not sure” or “no” to either of these, then do not settle. Take the time and keep looking for an advisor with whom you can definitively say “yes” to both questions.
- Area of Expertise: Financial planning professionals may be able to assist you in a variety of areas such as estate planning, investments, retirement, taxes, and insurance. If you have a specific need — for example, estate planning — you may wish to choose an advisor that mainly specializes in estate planning.
- Independent or Team: Like a doctor or lawyer, some financial planners will work independently, and others will work as part of a larger financial planning practice. A team approach can often provide more flexibility and areas of expertise in terms of growing with your financial needs over time without switching advisor practices. However, you may also want to become acquainted with more than one financial planner in a larger practice to gauge both the expertise and comfort you seek and to see if the firm is compatible with your needs.
- Compensation: Some financial advisors are paid by fees only and others can accept commissions. A “fee-only” financial planner does not have the same potential conflicts of interest that a “fee-based” financial planner may have because the former does not get paid via commissions from the product he or she sells to you.
- Fiduciary Duty: Ask your financial planner if he or she is a fiduciary. Why is this important? Because fiduciaries have a legal obligation or “fiduciary duty” to act in your best interests. All planners who carry the Certified Financial Planner® designation are fiduciaries.
- Location: Yes, Zoom has made it much more convenient to meet with people remotely during the pandemic. Nevertheless, we recommend that you have a financial planner that you can meet with in person and is relatively close to home.
- Use NAPFA or FPA. The websites of both the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors and the Financial Planning Association also allow you to conduct searches for a financial advisor near you.
- Gender: Just like your doctor, you may prefer to work with a financial planner who identifies as a male or female.
- Get Referrals: You may know someone who already uses or knows a reputable financial planner, which can provide you with a warm lead. Either way, you should always get referrals from a financial planner as well and speak to those references about their experiences with the planner before you sign any agreement.
About Us: Modera is proudly a fee-only and independently owned financial planning firm that acts as a fiduciary for our clients. We have built our organization to put our clients’ interests first.
Call Modera Wealth Management and our Atlanta financial advisors to learn more and set up an initial meeting with our team.
Modera Wealth Management, LLC (“Modera”) is an SEC-registered investment advisor with places of business in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Modera may only transact business in those states in which it is registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration requirements. SEC registration does not imply any level of skill or training. For information pertaining to our registration status, fees and services, please contact us or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure web site (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov) to obtain a copy of our disclosure statement set forth in Form ADV Part 2A. Please read the disclosure statement carefully before you invest or send money.
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