For Your Financial Success, Use A Certified Financial Advisor

Meeting with a certified financial advisor is one of the best ways to get a clear outlook of your financial situation and to appropriately plan for your financial future. Certified Financial Advisors are different from other financial advisors in that they typically have a college degree and at least three years experience, plus various levels of certification depending upon the state they practice in.

A common misconception is that these professionals are only for those who have a lot of money. There are some advisors who prefer to only work with clients who have a high net-worth, but many will gladly meet with anyone who is trying to get a handle on their finances.

Financial advisors are often compensated in the following ways:

Commission Only: Advisors who work for commission won’t charge you for advice or even financial plan development. These advisors make their money off of commission of selling you financial products which may be necessary to implement their financial recommendations.

Fee Only: These advisors will charge a fee to meet with you, provide advice, and any planning or financial management you may need. Some may charge fees on an hourly basis while others will charge on a project basis.

Combination Fee & Commission: Advisors who are compensated on a combination level will charge a fee to meet with you and may also receive a commission off the sale of any financial products you may buy.

Fee Offset: These advisors again make both a fee and receive a commission, except this time the commission will be offset against any fees you are charged.

Salary: Advisors who work for financial service firms may receive a salary for their work. In this case the consumer is referred as a bank client.

Many people benefit greatly from meeting with a financial advisor because it helps them become better informed about their finances. The complex nature of finance and budgeting is one of the main reasons that so many people struggle to control their money. An advisor will help you understand your situation and give you a plan on how to handle your debt and mortgage payments in the future.

When you take on a mortgage, invest for retirement or are planning for your future, you have the opportunity to look at the big financial picture and get strategic advice on the best course of action to take with your finances. The process can be complicated, so you shouldn’t be afraid to seek the help and counsel of a Certified Financial Advisor – your future depends on it!

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Choosing a Financial Advisor

Is it the stressed out, gray suit-clad financial advisors that make sense or a jeans and t-shirt, tech savvy image? To be true, buying and selling orders are not the last words in this profession. The entire attempt from a financial advisor should be to generate as much money as possible for their clients. This requires understanding the importance of a comprehensive approach in the realms of investments, insurances, budgeting, retirement planning, tax paying and funding for education or estate. It’s not possible without a person undergoing a rigorous training as a financial advisor. Therefore, here is a little lowdown on choosing a financial advisor with rock solid ideas on comprehensive financial planning.

Shop around before choosing an advisor

Comprehensive financial planning surpasses the former theory of spend tomorrow what you save today. Therefore, it is paramount that the chosen financial advisor is not stuck to this particular theory of yore. He must be able to figure out your wants today and plan accordingly to make you enjoy life and save at the same time. Finding such a financial advisor can be a tough task; hence, it is essential to run a comparison between all those whom you can access.

Prepare for your meeting

It pays to know all that’s meant by a true and comprehensive financial planning; it comprises:

Addressing the importance of a client’s dream financial future.
A maximum focus on everything that appears related to the specific goals.
Making available the capital if there surfaces a need.

All these lead to a tricky situation; a financial advisor needs to be selected only after he can provide a satisfactory estimate. It shall prove whether he can shape things properly.

Protecting your rights

The best interests of an investor are his/her basic right. Your dollars are not pebbles and needs maximum protection guarantee. A financial advisor with a very basic degree (e.g. NASD general securities exam) shall lag much behind a financial advisor with a clean chit in the Series 6, 7 and 63 exams. The latter are required as the minimum criteria for the regulatory requirements of the industry and one can stretch it to clear CFP (certified Financial Planner®), CFA (chartered financial analyst) and ChFC (chartered financial consultant) exams. Apart from these three, there is a fourth one that stands almost equivalent. A CPA (certified public accountant) designation, as it is called, is the best when it comes to handling the taxes. Besides, there also remain the factors called ethical requirements, mental agility to differentiate between requirements and ability to understand the subtle twists and turns of legalities to devise smooth transitions. That way, they shall also be answerable if you do not:

- Receive information regarding work history and account statements.

- Come to know about the risks, obligations and costs in prior for any investment.

- Receive satisfactory and consistent recommendations.

- Receive accurate and understandable account information and agreements.

- Get access to your funds in on a regular basis or face more restrictions or limitations than promised.

Handling your complaints

Unless a financial advisor responds in the affirmative on his clients’ grievances on the above points, it won’t be a sound decision to hire him. In case such incidences occur, complaining to FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and Securities and Exchange Commission shall be a worthwhile step.

Best advice

Though advertisements in the daily and weekly newspaper classifieds regarding finding a financial advisor are galore and so are the websites, fact remains, to find an advisor, a person should ensure the credibility of the source. Wiseradvisor.com is such a site that has made a large number of people find financial advisors most appropriate for their respective needs and there are enough testimonies from satisfied clients to get restored your lost peace of mind. Does that seem interesting? Well, start your search for a financial advisor at Wiseradvisor.com.

Are you looking for a financial professional, but not sure how to choose one? If you don’t have the time to conduct thorough research about financial advisors, fill out a short form and let our advisors contact you. Our experienced consultants will send you the names of advisors who are qualified and willing to help.

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How to Find a Financial Advisor!

How to make your choice

We all know by now the types of financial advisors existing today; it’s essential to decide which type to go for first. There are financial advisors and independent financial advisors; the first one functions as a part of a firm or a similar financial institution while the other operates like a freelancer. That makes sure one thing; with an independent financial advisor, your options are more. A financial advisor shall thus providefinancial advice- which is correct – but then again, financial advice is a very broad term requiring fine-tuning.

To be precise, financial advices are as many as the number of financial products and strategies available in the market; there also remains a question on their individual suitability. A financial advisor is the one who matches them up and therefore; it’s a specialized service that you require for better results.

Let’s see what can be achieved from an independent financial advisor. An IFA doesn’t hold any contract whereas others remain bound by contracts with financial institutions (e.g. life insurance or mortgage companies) or work directly under the company’s payroll. Therefore, why a contract bound/employed financial advisor may suggest going for a financial product sold by the same financial company – maybe that’s not meant to suit you completely – an independent financial advisor shall select a plan tailor-made to your needs if all other readily-available financial packages fall short. So now that you’ve known the difference, it’s time to learn how to choose the best.

Questions to ask

The regulatory body of financial services (FSA or Financial Services Authority) has put up certain requirements for any person willing to work as an IFA. This is something you need to enquire about when you are on the process of finding a suitable independent financial advisor; for those working under some financial institution, their credibility can be verified with the employing company. A Certificate in Financial Planning is the bare minimum; if there are advanced qualifications showing, it is all the better. These qualifications are specialization based, for example, an IFA dealing in mortgages must have a Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ) or a certification from the Association of the Pensions Management Institute (APMI) and so on. Just remember that the field an IFA is providing his services for must tally with the degrees he/she has earned so far. Ask your questions as you feel, but the abovementioned points must stay included in the answers you receive. And always remember; don’t hesitate to take any free quote that’s available. It helps to gain some idea on who’s more correct to address your needs.

What to expect next

Be prepared to reveal your entire financial history to the chosen financial advisor, from your most silly impulse spending to your long-term financial goals and everything that’s influencing your current spending habits. The financial advisor shall then choose for you a package, but it’s always better to get it verified from another source.

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The Financial Advisor’s Dilemma

Financial experts are a key element in the mutual fund industry. If they’re expert and unbiased, they’re worth every penny they earn. Unfortunately, the mutual fund industry works against finding such a person. Here’s what to do.

Conventional wisdom says that your broker should have your best interest first in mind and should know more than you do. But when a financial advisor or broker’s compensation is connected to which funds pay the most fees, how could they be completely objective? They can no longer be unbiased. They no longer put the client’s interests first. This is systemic. This hurts you as an investor.

It doesn’t help that investors often hurt themselves by having this childlike naiveté about how they work with financial people. The investor can have the trust of a child. I mean, the amount of trust they have with this stranger called a financial advisor is mind boggling.

And the financial advisor has to talk good, look good, look successful, be successful, form relationships easily, act like they have the client’s best interest at heart. For the most part, that’s what an investment advisor truly believes. It’s part of what creates the bad performance.

It doesn’t get any better when the financial advisor is embedded in the community. In fact, it’s worse. The advisor is a friend to many people, but the things that lead to investment failure are still at work. We may like and trust this financial advisor, but they are still what they are: mostly biased and not objective.

Even as I talk pretty starkly about the mutual fund industry, you should know that you are part of it if you are partaking of it and not getting educated. You are creating or providing some of the momentum. A major key is to understand how the financial planners and brokers themselves operate. It’s extremely interesting how they operate their business, which is not much different than how the fund families operate theirs. I’m talking here about financial planners, financial advisors, and investment brokers. For the sake of this article, let’s refer to them all as financial advisors.

Financial advisors are an important layer of the mutual fund industry. At the very top you have the mutual fund companies. Right up there with them, you have managed account companies like GoldmanSachs, the JP Morgan family and Fisher Investments; below that, you have financial advisors.

A financial advisor is supposed to act as a fiduciary to his or her clients. This is how Wikipedia defines a fiduciary: “A fiduciary is someone who has undertaken to act for and on behalf of another in a particular matter and circumstance, which gives rise to a relationship of trust and confidence. A fiduciary’s duty is the highest standard of care at either equity or law. A fiduciary is expected to be extremely loyal to the person to whom he owes the duty.”

This is key here: “He or she must not put their personal interest before the duty to the client.”

A true fiduciary must not profit by putting personal interest first. There is nothing wrong with financial planners and fund companies making a profit. Of course it’s okay. But when they actually put their personal interests first, that is a problem. When financial advisors sell the financial product to their clients that pays them the highest fees, that’s not necessarily what is best for their client.

Now, I’m not saying every single financial advisor does this, but I do say it’s a general rule. This is more than a slight leaning of a financial advisor toward a mutual fund company that pays them the highest rates; it’s a downright preference. And that’s the reason that some fund companies pay higher amounts to financial advisors than others. This works. It brings in business. These are investment companies, after all. Mutual fund companies expect a return on their dollar, and they get it.

What this means is this: Most investors go to a financial advisor thinking that they’re getting objective advice. In fact, it’s biased and not objective. This doesn’t have to be. But you have to be prepared. Knowing just a few simple facts is all it takes. It is possible to adopt simple strategies that enable you to plan when you can retire.

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10 Questions You Should Ask a Financial Advisor Or Financial Planner

If you are considering hiring a professional to help you with your investments and personal financial planning, you should come to the first meeting prepared with questions that will help you to evaluate if the advisor is right for you.

The questions below are intended to give you a good sense of the background, business structure, advisory style, and qualifications of a prospective advisor or planner:

1. What are your professional qualifications and designations, including formal educational degrees?

An advisor who has earned one or more professional designations has demonstrated a commitment to education and professionalism, and at least a reasonable proficiency in his or her field. Some common professional financial designations include: Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC).

Just as you might inquire about a potential employee’s formal education, knowing where an advisor went to school and what they studied can help indicate their level of general intelligence, knowledge, and ability to problem solve.

2. How long have you been an advisor, how many clients do you have, and how much money do you manage?

This information will help you evaluate an advisor’s level of experience and relative success. You may want to avoid an advisor with too little experience, or one who has too few or too many clients. In general, successful advisors will have more clients in assets under management than less successful ones.

3. Who are your ideal clients?

It can be helpful to understand the types of clients an advisor feels are a good fit for their practice. You don’t want to be an unusual client; it is better to fit well within an advisor’s client base so that you benefit from the advisor’s experience with others like you.

4. How are you compensated?

Financial advisors are compensated in a variety of ways. It is important that you understand exactly how and advisor benefits financially from the advice he or she will be giving you. You may decide that you prefer one method of compensation over another, due to personal preference, potential conflicts of interest, or other reasons.

5. Who will be handling my account?

Some advisory firms assign teams of professionals and backup staff to work with clients. Smaller firms usually have just one advisor working with each client. There can be benefits and drawbacks to both models, and it is important that you understand the potential relationship so you can make a decision that you feel will be best for you.

6. How will you communicate with me and my other advisors?

It is important that you receive frequent, clear, and accurate communications from your advisor, and that they will work well with your other advisors (such as your accountant and attorney). You should also feel confident that your advisor will be available for you promptly should you have a question, or want to meet to discuss something.

7. What services do you provide?

Some advisors only offer asset management services while others will offer a more complete set of services that may include personal financial planning. You want to be sure you know exactly what services you are going to get and how they will be delivered before you become a client.

8. What is your investment and financial planning philosophy?

There are a variety of different investment philosophies and approaches to financial planning. It is important that your advisor’s way of managing money is consistent with your own. This is an essential area of said for a successful long-term relationship.

9. Do you take custody of client assets?

Safety of your assets is imperative, so most independent advisors use a third-party custodian firm, such as Charles Schwab, TD Waterhouse, Vanguard, or Fidelity. Advisors who are registered representatives will likely custody your assets at the brokerage firm with which they are affiliated. Beware of advisors who don’t use an outside custodian.

10. What makes you different from others?

A good advisor should be able to clearly explain to you how working with them is uniquely different from working with someone else. This question gives your advisor a chance to identify their strengths, thus giving you the opportunity to make an assessment.

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Four Steps in Choosing a Financial Advisor

With all the publicity in the newspapers, television, internet, and magazines, we are all familiar with the likes of Bernie Madoff and R. Allen Stanford. These two “financial advisors” are accused of bilking their clients out of $60 Billion and $10 Billion respectively.

What in the world is going on? Who can you Trust? How do you protect yourself? How do you find a financial advisor that you can trust?

How should you begin to protect yourself?

There are several steps you can take to protect yourself? As with everything in life, nothing, including these steps, can guarantee that your financial advisor is honest or will continue to be honest. However, if you follow these four steps you will be better protected from the likes of the Madoff’s and Stanford’s of the world when you choose your financial advisor.

Talk to friends, relatives, and coworkers for names of their trusted advisors. Referrals from other people are the best way to get names of financial advisors. Once you have a name than begin with step one.

Your first step is to go to finra.org, the public’s watchdog organization for financial advisors and brokerage companies. FINRA is the acronym for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. It was created in 2007 with the consolidation of the NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers) and the enforcement and arbitration divisions of the New York Stock Exchange.

On the FINRA site, look at the investor’s section and click on the “FINRA Broker Check” tab. This will allow you to check on both the advisor and the brokerage firm the financial advisor is affiliated with. If there have been any problems or complaints with this particular advisor or brokerage firm it will be listed here. You must do this first even if the advisor has been referred to you. Remember Bernie Madoff and R. Allen Stanford? They did their business exclusively through referrals.

Once you are satisfied with what you have read on the FINRA site your second step is in meeting, face to face, your potential new financial advisor. This is your opportunity to interview the person who may be handling your life savings.

There is an old saying that you don’t get a second chance at a first impression. This is particularly important when you meet with your potential financial advisor. That “gut” feeling you get when you meet and talk with this person will help you decide whether this person is a fit for you.

Ask yourself are they too aggressive? Too arrogant? Too conservative? Too laid back?

Remember this person is someone whom you will be dealing with for many years. It is hard to trust someone if you don’t feel comfortable with them.

The third step is asking this financial advisor for references. Ask them, “Who are three clients of yours that I could talk to”? Now we all know that the advisor is going to give you three people that s/he knows well and gets along with. But that is not the point. The point is the advisor’s reaction to the question. Did the financial advisor hesitate to say okay or did the financial advisor say that s/he doesn’t disclose that kind of information?

There may be a very valid reason for not wanting to tell you because it may be against the policy of the brokerage firm to give out “any” client information. Based on my experience, this is a lame excuse. But what you have done is draw out the financial advisor and the brokerage firm so it fits your needs not theirs.

Maybe you like the idea of their not disclosing any client names under any circumstances. Then again maybe you don’t like the idea of this perceived secrecy. Ask for three client names and their contact information. Call the people. Listen to what they have to say very carefully. Then decide if this is a person you can work with, feel comfortable with, and can hope to trust.

The fourth step in choosing a financial advisor is going back to step one and start all over again. I can’t emphasize this strongly enough. You should look at a minimum of three financial advisors before your chose. These four steps are just the beginning. This can be a time consuming process. It’s your time and money. What do you want to do?

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