Finding a financial planner

<p>We've always handled our money ourselves as, frankly, there wasn't that much of it! We've not come into a windfall or anything like that, it's just that I have questions about what we do have, retirement, etc.</p>

<p>I want to find someone that can answer my questions and make unbiased recommendations. What should I look for? What should I expect to pay?</p>



<p>I haven't run into any financial planners that are unbiased. I don't know how they could be unbiased if you're their client as what you do impacts their livelihood.</p>

<p>I have had several different folks who are "roughly" financial planners. There are two basic folks--those who get a commission or something from whatever they sell you & those who you pay by the hour (or some other basis) and get NOTHING from anything they recommend or sell to you. </p>

<p>One of the benefits I had with an employer was 4 hours of counseling--I chose financial counseling & they paid someone to talk with me (it was one of only TWO people in our state who work on an hourly basis instead of getting a commission or working for an investment company). She sat with me for several hours--I brought in all our financial docs in as organized a manner as I could. She looked everything over & put it into a computer program & studied it for a while. I had a follow up appointment a while later, where she explained her analysis of how our assets currently stood, what projections & assumptions we made, and what is likely to happen if we retire as scheduled. She also noted how investments are distributed and made some suggestions about better diversifying. At the time I spoke with her, I wanted some reassurance that we would have sufficient assets for our needs & to support our kids, if their health didn't improve; for the most part, she did supply that. I did feel she was pretty unbiased, as her bill was paid by employer and she wasn't selling anything directly to me.</p>

<p>I now go to one who is on salary by Charles Schwab, so she gets nothing directly from whatever we do or don't do. Of course she & CS hope we keep as much as possible with them, but that's all. The CS woman went over all our investments before I transferred many of them to CS. She helped with the transfer. She also had me provide all the data I could about our current & projected spending, as well as assets upon retirement. She plugged it all into her computer program & came up with some probable scenarios as well. She says a few months prior to retirement, we can transfer assets to consolidate IRAs and other accounts, as desired. Since she gets a salary, she says she gets NO commission & has never pressured me about anything.</p>

<p>My S & BIL go to another financial planner who is with Edward Jones. I believe they are on a commission basis, but they're happy with him & feel he is providing good service & advice. I haven't asked details.</p>

<p>Do you know an accountant you trust? Our tax accountant recommended the guy we work with now. He does work on commission, but that does not bother us. He made some recommendations early in the process that helped us out a lot on taxes, so he is golden.</p>

<p>That's a good idea. Recommendations by folks you trust is another way of getting good referrals. My BIL & Sis had one guy who "churned" investments to maximize his commissions, so BIL had to fire him. He wanted Sis to handle them, but she doesn't like doing it. Maybe I'll ask some of the accountants I know too.</p>

<p>The laws and regulations are often very odd.</p>

<p>For instance:
a real estate agent cannot recommend a mortgage broker.
a mortgage broker cannot recommend a real estate broker
A accountant cannot recommend a financial planner.
A financial planner cannot recommend an accountant.
A MD is not going to recommend a lawyer.</p>

<p>The list goes endless on. Sounds stupid but if you really examine it, makes sense.
Their business is selling whatever product they sell-they are not in the business in making a recommendation for other stuff. But you say, you are only looking for a recommendation-And if that recommendation ends up costing you everything, you go back onto the people who gave you that recommendation-right? </p>

<p>A good example that was widespread:
A real estate agent recommends CountryWide, Washington Mutual, or EZ Mortgage Brokerage. Or your neighbor recommended these people because their refinance rates beat everyone else. </p>

<p>My recommendation: See a bunch of them. Several good books, something like dummy and stupid books. You can even join a few of these firms and learn financial stuff from within. </p>

<p>Attended a seminar on estate planning this past tuesday. I got a free pen, a chicken wrap and chips, and an offer for their program for $3395. And if offer is taken this week, its $2995. The guy began his presentation that he' 66 and still has to work at this because Social Security is not enough. :/</p>

<p>Listen to BCEagle ... that's the best advice I can provide.</p>

<p>Or I can supply "unbiased" advice ... just write me a check for $5,000 and tell me what you're thinking.</p>

<p>Seriously, I have the same question as OP. I sure wish I could find someone who could actually look at what we have and advise us on the best way to proceed. Sigh ...</p>

<p>If I could, I wouldn't.</p>

<p>It's not that hard.
Get the stupid and dummy books. Books are good but not always upto date or not for every one or circumstance.
Go to seminars and enjoy the free coffee. Stay away from the donuts.
If you don't feel comfortable, walk away. You will walk away because You don't like the presentor, you don't like the product, or you don't understand the product. All are good reasons.
The short-term penalty for delaying isn't that great. The longterm penalty could be immeasurable.
Never put your eggs into the same basket.
Hedge yourself.
No such thing as a guarantee. Especially when it is love and money.
Its never enough. For 99% of us.
For the 1%, there is still more.
Money isn't everything.
Money can buy just about everything.
Even the masters of the universe us and themselves.
It's only for 4 years.
Don't bet the rest of your life on a single decision.
Get a washlet bidet.
If can't make the top end happy, make the bottom end happy.

<p>Go to one at a discount broker, either Charles Schwab or Fidelity. Do you have an account with them? There's no charge for consultation and I think they are on salary not commission.</p>

<p>Yes, I think it's a VERY good idea to listen to a few presentations. (I like to go with one or more other people I consider level-headed so we can debrief afterwards.) There are some at very nice venues with good food as well. I've been to a few of those as well. I do my own research & then bounce it off the CPA as well as any financial planners and attorneys I see and/or I'm friendly with. So far, for us, it has worked OK--not GREAT, but not awful.</p>

<p>You & your significant other have to figure out how much risk vs. security you like/need and as was said, diversify. I've been quite pleased with Schwab so far, especially since they have a branch in our state & even validate parking. The advisor's I have spoken with so far seem friendly, NOT pushy, and helpful. They provide information & resources and let me figure out how & when I want to get back to them (or not). They encourage us to do our own trades so that we can pay lower commissions than if they help us. </p>

<p>Much of it is like many relationships, you have to be sure your personality and the advisor's match, that you both figure out your risk tolerance and goals and figure out together how you'd like to get to the goals. Try out several & see which one(s) work out best for you.</p>

<p>Start in the library and read various* books in the personal finance and investment section.</p>

<li>Several, because different authors have different opinions on various matters.</li>

<p>For unbiased, you want a fee-only certified financial planner. My personal preference is to find someone who is in an outside practice and not affiliated with any of the big investment houses or banks. If you search on certified financial planner, you'll find tools to help you locate a CFP in your area. Call a few to get a sense of costs. </p>

<p>The spouse is pretty savvy with financial matters, but it's been very helpful to us to have someone go through our finances, ask us penetrating questions about retirement, funds we wish to spend on offspring (last time he mentioned paying for weddings :eek:) and so forth, and then give us a detailed view of how we're doing and what we might want to change.</p>

Agree wholeheartedly!</p>

<p>I'm not sure what law or code of ethics prohibits an accountant from giving clients the names of financial planners as someone said above, but I'm a lawyer and I asked our accountant for recommendations when we were looking for a good, independent, fee-based financial planner. We took his top recommendation and have been very happy ever since.</p>

<p>Knowing that pug is a military spouse, and because of how retirement works for military I would suggest 1st command or USAA. The reason why is that the retirement pay from the military will only exist for the duration of her spouses life. If he dies 5 days, 5 yrs or 50 yrs after retiring from the military, the next day that paycheck is over.</p>

<p>These 2 organizations also understand the life insurance offered by the military to Veterans aka VGLI. They also are well aware of the fact that military retirement pay in some states is taxable and some states it is not.</p>

<p>For retirement purposes these are all factors to place into consideration as a client with unique issues. </p>

<p>1st Command does sell hard, especially life insurance and front load mutuals and I am not the biggest fan of them. However, it is a great starting place to inform yourself with no cost since they have the hold on the military market. They will work up a plan for what you need to meet your goals. They will meet with you yrly to review your goals. Problem is they are like sharks and relentless once they have your contact info.</p>

<p>USAA has great programs, but the personal touch is not there as much and they cost nothing either.</p>

<p>The one thing I would stay away from is if they push Whole Life Insurance the ROI is not worth it compared to a long term monthly investment into a mutual fund. Additionally, if you are retired military now, and he is on his 2nd career, typically the life insurance plan offered through his new company will make up the VGLI as a bennie or a lower payment. Bullet's job pays 2 yrs of his salary as a bennie, no cost to us, which is why we didn't take the VGLI.</p>

<p>Go to one of those retirement seminars. At least you'll get a free meal, a chance to talk to other old "f..ts" and perhaps get a free consultation.</p>

<p>OP, what exactly do you expect to get from a financial planner? </p>

<p>There are quite a few on-line comprehensive calculators for retirement purposes. You could simply plug in your numbers to see where you are. You could play with many factors (make sure you write them down before changing) to get a good picture.</p>

<p>You should already know how much you could put in every month and how much you will need after retirement. Those calculator will tell you how much return you need to reach your target. </p>

<p>The next thing is then to find the products that could get you those returns. </p>

<p>We have a financial advisor from our PCG who will do an yearly review with us. yes, we also attend some of these free dinner seminars too.</p>

<p>Diversification is important. As has recently been pointed out, there are three main asset classes: stocks, bonds and apple.</p>

<p>Thank you, everyone, for your time and words of wisdom.</p>

<p>Dad II brings up an important question of what exactly do I expect to get from a financial planner and my honest answer is, I'm not sure!</p>

<p>We married young and had our child young, so our focus has always been getting him through college. Now that he's in his sophomore year and things are going well, I feel like suddenly retirement has loomed up and I find a lot of the financial information I read to be confusing and/or contradictory. </p>

<p>I think I need to master the basics and so will get some very basic books. Then I"ll see where to go from there.</p>

<p>Thank you again!</p>