When facing a serious medical or legal issue, who do you look to for guidance? You wouldn’t just walk into the first doctor’s office or attorney’s office and hire just anyone. You would do your due diligence to make sure you are choosing to work with someone you can trust. You would look for a highly credentialed professional with a lot of experience. The same approach applies when you are looking for a financial advisor.

Choosing a professional financial advisor doesn’t have to be daunting. I recommend starting with a few simple questions:  First, is this person a qualified financial planner? 

A best practice when choosing a financial advisor is to find one with several years of experience and at least holds the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. 

Another important question you might consider: does he or she have a genuine interest in customizing an investment strategy built for your specific needs, or is there more energy being put into selling you a product that favors the interest of a company with which they or their firm is associated?

In the end, experience, advanced credentials, and education can make a meaningful difference in your investment outcomes and, ultimately, how satisfied you will be in the long run with your chosen financial advisor.

Managing personal finances can be not only reassuring but exciting when you work with a qualified financial planner. It’s not just about numbers, but about dreams, goals, and security. Many individuals feel overwhelmed when trying to save, invest, or even understand the complexities of the financial world. That’s why an adept financial advisor can be invaluable by delving into not just account balances, but understanding your life’s trajectory, your aspirations, and the unique situations you might face. A hallmark of a competent advisor is the ability to foster trust and genuine relationships, ensuring that your financial strategies align with your life’s blueprint.

Fostering such a relationship is not always straightforward. When embarking on the search for an advisor, consider the following:

  1. Define Your Needs: Are you looking for retirement planning, investment strategies, tax advice, debt management, budgeting insights, or guidance on estate planning? Pinpointing your requirements will guide your choice of expert.
  2. Seek Referrals: Begin with your circle. Family and close friends can provide candid reviews and recommendations based on their experiences.
  3. Check Credentials & Experience: While they don’t guarantee expertise, credentials and experience can set the groundwork for your search. They can help you distinguish knowledgeable advisors from the novice.
  4. Find an Advisor You Trust: Such professionals commit to placing your needs above theirs. They prioritize clients’ interests, even if it means reduced compensation for them.
  5. Ask questions: When interviewing potential advisors, remember they’ll work for you, and you should feel comfortable asking questions. Some questions to consider are:

What are your credentials?
Are you a fiduciary?
How do you get paid – commissions, flat fees, or both?
How will you manage my assets?
What proactive steps should I take for my financial future?

Choosing a financial advisor is akin to selecting a co-pilot for your financial voyage. To navigate the constantly evolving terrain of your life—be it personal milestones like marriage and childbirth, career advancements, or unpredictable events—an advisor should not just bring expertise but also empathy. This partnership thrives on regular communication, periodic reviews, and realigning strategies in response to life’s vicissitudes.

In summary, just as one exercises diligence in choosing a doctor or lawyer, the same prudence is essential when selecting a financial advisor. In addition to getting curious about credentials, education, and experience, it’s the relationship’s integrity, regular communication, and the advisor’s genuine commitment to your best interests that will ensure you achieve your financial objectives and dreams. 

Denis Poljak is a Managing Director and a Wealth Manager with the Poljak Group Wealth Management at Steward Partners in Shreveport, Louisiana. The information contained in this article is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors as the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives. Investing involves risks and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Steward Partners or its affiliates. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee their accuracy or completeness. Steward Partners Investment Solutions, LLC member SIPC