1. What is your title and does it require college-level courses?
Not all financial titles are the same. Certain titles require years of in-depth training, while others, such as “retirement advisor,” do not. Your advisor should have successfully completed college courses in complex, high-level topics, such as estate planning, investments and income tax laws.
2. What services do you offer?
Make sure you work with a true expert who specializes in the services you need for the life stage you’re at. Some financial advisors specialize in estate planning, while others may have expertise in income tax laws or investments.
3. Do you have credentials from an accredited organization?
If your financial advisor has credentials from an unaccredited organization, you should be wary. Make sure she has not faced disciplinary action or had trouble with regulators or investors—your state’s consumer protection and attorney general’s offices are good places to start.
4. How are you paid?
Get all of the fees detailed in writing so you know all of the costs. Some advisors are paid an hourly fee or monthly fee, while others make money from selling you products.
5. Do you have potential conflicts of interest?
You want an advisor who’s working in your best interest. If he gets paid more by selling you a certain product, he may give you advice that’s helpful to his wallet, not necessarily your financial future. Make sure you are comfortable with potential conflicts.
Be on the lookout
- Be wary of “free financial advice luncheons” and other freebies, which could be sales pitches in disguise.
- Watch out for exaggerated claims, particularly about sure ways to make a lot of money with no risk.
- Walk away from high-pressure sales tactics. Good financial advisors won’t rush you. They know it takes time to weigh options and make the financial decision that’s best for you and your future.
Learn about estate planning
Take the free TCF Financial Fitness Program course about estate planning. TCF sponsors financial education programs developed by EVERFI, and unaffiliated third party.