Smart Money: Tips for Selecting Professional Advisors

1:28 PM, Apr 18, 2013   |    comments
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#1 DIFFERENT ADVISORS FOR DIFFERENT NEEDS
• CPA
• Investment advisor
• Financial planner
• Attorney
• Insurance professional

#2 ASK QUESTIONS
• Your friends, business associates and neighbors can be great referral sources.
• Ask your prospective advisor for three current client references and at least one professional reference.
• Has your potential advisor ever been convicted of a crime or investigated by a regulatory authority?
• Research your advisor using http://www.finra.org/Investors/ToolsCalculators/BrokerCheck/
• Ask your state's CPA licensing board or CPA association if your prospective CPA has ever been censured.
• How long has your advisor been practicing? Where has he or she worked in the past?
• Beware of promises that seem too good to be true.
• Consider if the advisor is experienced with complexities or nuances that are unique to your situation.
• How often will your advisor interact with you?

#3 CHECK FOR CREDENTIALS
• Is your CPA's license current? You can check with the state society or licensing board to verify this.
• Is the advisor credentialed as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) (www.cfp.net), Certified Wealth Strategist (CWS®) (www.certifiedwealthstrategist.com , a chartered financial analyst (CFA) or a Certified Retirement Counselor® (CRC®) (www.infre.org/CertifiedRetirementCounselor.shtml)?
• Conduct a background check with the SEC, FINRA, the CFP board or your state's licensing authority.
• Even a simple Internet search may reveal useful information.

#4 DISCUSS FEES
• Does the financial planner earn a commission, a percentage of managed assets or does she charge an hourly fee?
• Will your CPA or attorney charge a flat fee or an hourly rate for services?
• Understand the firm's billing structure if your advisor is part of a firm.
• Be certain to obtain written documentation of the fee structure.

#5 WILL YOUR ADVISORS WORK WELL TOGETHER?
• None of the elements of your personal financial situation exists in a vacuum.
• Will your advisors adopt a holistic approach to your personal needs to ensure that all pieces of the puzzle fit together?
• Have your advisors worked together to develop solutions for other clients?
• You may be able to find some advisors under the same umbrella. For example, many CPA firms also offer wealth management, investment advisory and insurance services through affiliated companies.

Courtesy: www.hanc.com  616.949.3200

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