Financial Planning Services

<p>As we prepare for the shockingly expensive prospect of putting our kids through college, I'm realizing that my husband and I really need some professional help with financial planning.</p>

<p>Each of us has an old account with TIAA-CREF from previous (not current) employment with educational insititutions. I got an email from them the other day that indicates they offer financial planning services. I'm not sure we're eligible, but if so--does anyone have experience working with them?</p>

<p>Also, we are USAA members and I believe they may offer some financial planning services as well.</p>

<p>Besides these sources, does anyone have suggestions on how to go about finding someone to help us get a grip on our financial picture?</p>

<p>My in laws used USAA to do their retirement planning and found it to be really helpful. I'd start there since you are eligible and their rates seemed really reasonable.</p>

<p>If you decide that USAA isn't the answer, here is what my wife and I did. We decided that we wanted a local planner, one that is fee-based, one that does NOT take actual control of your money, and one that was a Certified Financial Planner. We then used the CFP website to find planners in our area and interviewed 6 of them, finally selecting the one we felt the most comfortable with. We have been with him 10+ years now so it must have been a good choice. </p>

<p>Our thinking was:</p>

<p>1) a local guy allows us to sit down face to face - we did not want a national firm where the person we were talking to changed every time.</p>

<p>2) fee-based means they get paid as a percentage of assets under management. That is, if you have 100,000 in the bank and they get paid 1%, then they make 1,000 a year. When the money grows to 200,000, they get 2,000. The alternative compensation is commission based where they get paid per trade. The challenge here is that they are tempted to make extra trades or chose funds which pay them more rather than what helps you the most. I want their pay aligned with my goals.</p>

<p>3) NOT taking actual control of your money - One reason Bernie Madoff got away with his scheme was he had the money on deposit with him - and thus was making up the financial statements. A much better arrangement is where the money stays in a brokerage (mine is in Schwab) and the CFP trades there. You get statements from him and from Schwab, minimizing one avenue for fraud. Schwab also does not allow him to withdraw from the account, eliminating the midnight run to South America. </p>

<p>4) Certified Financial Planner is like a CPA - someone who has passed a series of tests and practiced for a certain number of hours. Just gives me a little sense of quality.</p>

<p>Hope this helps. </p>

<p>BTW - Schwab also has a list of independent CFPs that work with them like my guy does. This could be another source of names for you.</p>

<p>I think a local CFP is what we want. I wonder if USAA has a list the way Schwab does.</p>


<p>Our accountant recommended our financial planner, and it sounds as though our set-up is similar to scualum's. USAA reps will be happy to answer all of your questions. It bothers me that USAA is getting so big, so we probably would not go with them, but I would not hesitate to pump them for info. TIAA-CREF will also give you advice as long as you have an account with them--whether it is active or not.</p>

<p>My H loves USAA- and depending on how much $$ you have invested with them, you get different levels of personal service in their wealth management dept.</p>