How to Hire the Right Financial Advisor

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Are you thinking about searching for and hiring an advisor?

If so, how might you go about finding someone who is trustworthy and competent, someone you can rely on?

First, let’s note that it’s not a trivial question. “The difference between competent advice from a qualified advisor can be the difference between retiring well versus running out of money during retirement,” says Pam Krueger, CEO and founder of Wealthramp, a complimentary referral service to the nation's top, personally vetted, independent fiduciary advisors.

Related: How to Choose a Financial Adviser

So, what should you look for? According to Krueger, the key is to screen for whether a candidate is:

  • A fiduciary.
  • Fee-only. “It matters who’s paying them,” says Krueger. “How can you get an unbiased evaluation from someone selling investment funds? How would ever know the advice is not in their best interest— not yours.”
  • Competent. “It is an art and a science,” says Krueger. “At this point in life, you’ve worked hard and saved and invested, the last thing you can afford to do is roll the dice now by relying on someone’s guidance who happens to be a sales rep who really has never provided robust financial plans.”

According to Kruger, referrals from friends mean you’re assuming your friend has done all the diligence so you don’t have to. "Some brokers are excellent — but at the end of the day, no matter how likable they are, they don’t work for you,” says Krueger. “They work for their brokerage firm or insurance company. Don’t settle for less than an A grade on a report card— excellent advisors are out there hiding in plain sight.”

So, what can you get from an adviser who passes all these vetting “screens?”

One, according to Kruger, it’s a long list that includes robust planning, Cares Act guidance, help evaluating an early retirement package, analysis, unbiased evaluation, timing decisions, tax, estate and legacy planning, thoughtful retirement-income strategies, and the like.

And two, collaboration. “Sometimes you just need someone to talk it out with,” says Krueger.

Bottom line: “Who to hire is an extremely serious decision,” said Kruger. “Don’t rush this decision because you feel a sense of urgency. Due diligence is everything; it’s a long-term relationship.”

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