Previuosly, I wrote about how to choose an estate planning attorney. This week, I ran across another brief article in the Vancouver Sun, this time offering guidance on how to choose a financial planner. I think their sample list of questions is a good start:

  • What are your qualifications? Ask about education and professional certifications.
  • What experience do you have? Hint: Look for someone with at least a few years of experience, perhaps even enough longevity to show they can navigate an economic downturn.
  • What services do you offer? Be sure to ask what fees are associated with each service.
  • What is your approach to financial planning? Does the planning deal exclusively with people of a certain net worth? Do they charge for their advice only, or do they sell products and earn commissions?
  • Will you be the only person working with me? Ask whether the planner is part of a “team” and who else might be on that team, such as a tax special or even an estate planning attorney.

I also would add that the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards has release a new guide entitled, “Consumer Guide to Financial Self-Defense … What you must know and do to prevent financial abuse.” This guide includes a number of “Red Flags” that should warn you off of an unscrupulous financial advisor.

Finally, if you have doubts about any financial advisor or suspect fraud or abuse – whether of yourself or a loved one – please gives us a call. Sometimes these are just misunderstandings and a bit of communication can straighten everything out. Other times, more severe action may be required.

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