Find a financial advisor


Financial security is an essential element of a successful retirement. Although many Americans don’t engage a professional to help them plan for retirement or manage household money, a growing number of them do, especially as their financial situations become more complicated and retirement comes into play. Financial advisors are not just for the wealthy, they work with people in all economic strata. And they can be of assistance with a variety of financial issues, especially for those in retirement. Many people choose to work with a financial advisor to develop a plan that will get and keep the financial aspects of their retirement under control and on track. Whether you are considering engaging an outside expert, or have already decided to engage one, the information on these pages will provide clarity and direction in helping you protect your financial assets.

Am I right for this?

10 yes/no questions to help you determine if this is a good direction for you

Do I want to improve the performance of my current financial assets?

Do I believe that by working with a financial professional I can improve my financial situation?

Do I know how to assess how much risk I am willing to take when it comes to managing my money?

Do I know the pros and cons of investing in various financial instruments?

Am I generally confident about my own ability to make financial decisions?

Do I think that a professionally designed financial plan would make me more money?

If I have a spouse/partner, do they know the details of my financial situation and how it may impact them?

Have I typically made money on investments that I made myself?

Do I anticipate a life change in the near future that might require professional financial advice?

Am I comfortable sharing my financial situation with an outside professional?

Learn More

If you answer six or more “yes,” this is probably a good direction to pursue.

Types of financial advisors

  • Fee-only planners
  • Retirement planners/consultants
  • Commission-based advisors
  • Insurance brokers
  • Advisors who only work with Wealth Management clients or help to manage your Family Office (Ultra High Net Worth)

Ways financial advisors are compensated

  • Assets under management
  • Fee only (retainer or subscription fee)
  • Commissions
  • Hourly rates

Certifications to seek in a financial planner

  • CFP® (Certified Financial Planner)
  • CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)
  • CPA (Certified Public Accountant)
  • ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant)
  • CIMA (Certified Investment Analyst)
  • CPWA® (Certified Private Wealth Advisor and/or Certified Private Wealth Analyst)
  • RMA® (Retirement Management Advisor and/or Retirement Management Analyst)
  • IAR (Investment Adviser Representative- works for a RegisteredInvestment Advisory firm)
  • CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter)

Ways financial advisors provide support

  • Help you understand your risk tolerance for investing
  • Developing a holistic financial plan that helps you achieve your financial goals
  • Specific investment advice; buying and selling stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds
  • Support for estate planning documents including power of attorney and health care directives
  • Retirement planning including Social Security strategies and Medicare planning
  • Helping you with savings, budget, insurance, and tax strategies
  • Monitoring your progress on a regular basis and adjusting as necessary
  • Reviewing your investment portfolio’s asset allocation
  • Handling an inheritance
  • Company retirement plan rollovers
  • Dealing with debt

Top questions to ask your advisor

  • How are you compensated?
  • What financial planning services do you offer?
  • What licenses do you hold in my state?
  • Would I be a typical client?
  • Do you have account minimums?
  • Do you have any conflicts of interest in managing my money?
  • What information do I need to bring for you to look at whendeveloping a financial plan?
  • Will you collaborate with my other advisors, like CPAs or attorneys?
  • Do you specialize in a particular area of financial planning?


Here are questions and answers that address common issues and concerns for those interested in finding a financial advisor.


What are the overall advantages of working with a professional financial advisor vs. managing my own portfolio, and are there any downsides?


Commonly cited benefits include developing a holistic personal financial plan, reducing risk and tax exposure, helping couples get on the same page financially, having regular check-ins on progress toward financial goals and helping people make smarter financial decisions.

On the downside, if you work with an advisor who has a large number of clients, you may not receive a lot of attention. Further, if you're expecting your advisor to always beat industry benchmarks with your portfolio you are likely to be disappointed. You also need to be careful about specific products they may recommend or seem to be promoting. A final word of caution: many advisors are nearing the end of their careers, so you probably don't want to work with someone who plans to retire before you do.


What is included in a professionally developed plan?


Unless you’ve worked with an advisor, it’s unlikely you have a comprehensive financial plan—which typically includes details on income, expenses, budgeting, taxes, savings goals, estate plans, insurance, real estate strategies, and charitable giving. If you have not worked through these details of a financial plan, having at least a preliminary consultation with a financial advisor makes good sense.


Do I need to have a deep understanding of my net worth and current financial situation to engage an advisor?


Although it’s good to know your net worth, it’s better to have a detailed understanding of your financial situation. One of the biggest issues people face in retirement is managing debt and expenses. You should know how much money you have coming in, how much you spend, and if you are on track with your retirement plan. An advisor can help you prioritize your current situation and plan for a better financial future.


What is the minimum level of assets I need to work with an advisor?


Many firms can provide basic planning services and financial coaching to any level of clients. However, in general, to get a dedicated financial advisor at a national firm you need to have at least $250,000 in investable assets. That figure may be less in the independent advisor channel, based on where you live.


What's the cost of working with an advisor?


It depends on your asset levels. Fee-only planners charge a flat yearly fee depending on tier of service. Other planners charge fees based on how much money they manage for you, known as assets under management (AUM). For example, if you have $1 million and the advisor charges 1% fee, then you would pay approximately $10,000/year to have them manage your account.


If I have a spouse or partner, how important is it that we are on the same page when it comes to money management and personal finance?


Many couples/domestic partners don’t spend enough time talking to each other about their personal money values and how to best plan their combined financial futures. Obviously, being aligned on this important topic will help make the process of financial planning a lot smoother. A good advisor can help facilitate those discussions.


What is the difference between a financial planner and financial advisor?


They are very similar and basically provide the same types of services. What’s important about choosing either one is to make sure they have the necessary credentials, certifications and licenses.

Additional resources

Next steps:

Step 1

Determine if it makes sense for you to work with a financial advisor based on the “Is this Right for Me” section.

Step 2

Determine the level of financial expertise and support you need.

Step 3

Ask for referrals and then run a background check on the advisors that you narrow down, such as from FINRA's free BrokerCheck service.

Step 4

Optimize or create a LinkedIn profile, marketing yourself as an expert.

Step 5

Verify that they are licensed properly in your state.

Step 6

Review their capabilities and offerings.

Step 7

Ask how they get compensated and get an estimate of the fees you will pay (based on your level of service and asset level).

Step 8

Meet with prospective advisors before making a commitment and see if you feel comfortable sharing the financial details of your life with them.

Getting Started Icon

Get started

Talk to an expert. Explore the options. Dig a little deeper. See if this is right for you.