Financial Planners & Other Places For Financial Advice

 

Basics

There are lots of ways to get financial information and advice.  You can use a broker (see Stock Brokers & Brokerage Accounts ) for your securities investments; some full service brokers even offer financial planning.  However, there are many other places you can go to get financial advice.  The advice ranges from free, or a reasonable sum, to very expensive.   You can work with a financial planner to help you manage your complete financial assets.   You can also join an investment club or purchase an investment newsletter, newspaper or magazine.  There are television stations and programs that also provide investment information.  Finally there are web resources, both for a fee and free.



The biggest thing to remember is to think twice before you invest.  Ask yourself what you are basing your decision on.  If it is an analyst, broker or if you read an article, look to see if there might be a conflict of interest.  This means does the person providing the advice gain by your decision?  For example, a stock broker might push a particular company his or her firm has an investment relationship with.  It does not mean that the information is faulty, but in this case, be extra diligent in your research to make sure you agree with the recommendation.  Always do your own research and use multiple sources to validate a recommendation.  Ask yourself does it make sense to you?  Or, should you take Warren Buffett’s advice (one of the most successful investors ever), "Never invest in a company you can’t understand."

The primary resource you use for your financial advice will depend primarily on the size of your portfolio and the type of investor you are.

Note:  This is just a partial list of places to go for additional financial advice.  I am not recommending any one resource over another.  That is your choice to make.  Here are some places to get financial information.

 

 

Financial Planners

Once you have gained a certain amount of wealth, you might consider hiring a professional financial planner who will:
  • Review your current financial condition.
  • Work with you to identify your financial objectives, both short term, but more importantly long term.  They will ask questions like “How old do you want to be when you retire?  What type of lifestyle do you want and where?
  • Recommend ways to achieve your financial goals, by building wealth over time.
Financial planners, unlike brokers who deal primarily with stocks and bonds, will use various financial instruments to achieve your financial goals.  Although you might seek out their services for a specific event or occurrence, such as what to do with an inheritance, most financial planners will work with you on an ongoing basis.  Among other things, they will recommend and help you with:
  • Stocks (see Stocks: Buying Selling & Researching ) and Bonds
  • Individual Retirement Funds (see Individual Retirement Account (IRA)
  • Municipal Bonds for tax free income, if warranted
  • Discuss life insurance
  • Estate Planning
  • Real Estate Purchase
  • Health and Life Insurance
  • Certificate Of Deposit (CD)
  • Set amounts you need to save to achieve your goals
  • Discuss your tax bracket and ways to reduce your taxes.  They will also anticipate tax consequences of your investments.
  • What to do with an inheritance or a sudden large amount of assets
  • How to save for college, a home, a wedding

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 Financial planners are paid in one of three ways

  1. Commission Based:  These are people who act similar to a broker, and get paid a commission when you purchase a financial product, such as a stock or insurance.
  2. Fee Based:  These people work more like a lawyer, charging by the hour.  Or you can pay a fee that is a fixed percent of your assets from .75% to 2.5%.
  3. Combination of Fees and Commission:  Some financial planners use a combination, based on your goals and size of your portfolio.

Some planners are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)(see Stock Markets & Securities Exchanges  ) as investment advisors.  They offer a "wrap around" account, which charges a "management fee" similar to those that might be offered by mutual funds.  There are no sales fees or commission on trades and you receive one statement.  The investment advisors create and manage your investment portfolio.

Obviously, if you have a friend who has a successful financial planner, by all means meet with them.  Another way to find one is by looking at their credentials and then going to a website or directory to find one. 

  •  The most well known is the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, which is achieved with a combination of 3 years minimum of experience, a 2 day test, and continuing education requirements. 
  • Another is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), and finally a Certified Public Accountant.
  • A Personal financial Specialist (CPA/PFS) combines an accountant and a financial specialist. 

Check out these Websites:  Financial Planning Association: http://www.fpanet.org/;  The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors: http://www.napfa.org/;  The American Institution of CPAs:  http://pfp.aicpa.org/;  The American Society of CLU and ChFC: http://financialpro.org/ .

Before you select one make sure you understand their fee structure.  Realize commission based planners have a built-in conflict of interest, since they only get paid when you purchase something; the higher priced the investment the larger their fee will be.  Review their records and compare their clients’ portfolio records to the financial market as a whole and to those of other planners.  Ask them to give you a basic idea of how they would use your financial assets; see if you like their plan.

If you turn your day to day investment decisions over to a financial planner it is critical you have one that will keep you informed, and that you feel comfortable talking to and yes, even telling them you disagree with their recommendations.   After all it is your money.  You need to make sure you tell your planner if your goals or situations change, so they can make adjustments.  You are a team.  In the end, if you don’t like the way your money is being invested or they are not meeting your goals, change advisors.

Make sure you keep excellent records of your instructions to your advisor and your conversation, if you ever have to use them if a dispute arises (see Stock Brokers & Brokerage Accounts).


Investment Clubs

I
nvestment Clubs can sometimes be fun, educational and a profitable way to invest.  A group, generally around 15 people, meets monthly and pool their ideas and money in the market to form a collective investment portfolio.  For the group to succeed, all the members need to participate and share the responsibilities of researching, investing, and keeping records.  If you want to find more information, go to the nonprofit group called Better Investing, which supports over 18,000 investment clubs http://www.betterinvesting.org/public/default.htm.

Individual Investor Club

If you would rather do your own research, but would like some guidance, you might want to check out the American Association of Individual Investors http://www.aaii.com/.  They have local clubs, offer seminars, and have various subgroups.
 

 

Investment Newsletters

There are some financial newsletters that really do provide valuable information and market perspectives.  The best ones provide insight, an education, explanations and yes, guidance and stock suggestions.  Others are just out there to create a buzz to drive stock up or down mostly for their own gain.  Although I am not endorsing any, here are two for your consideration.

There is one publication, Hulbert Financial Digest that tracks and ranks the results of 180 newsletters.  You can see the performance of newsletters for the last 5-20 years
https://store.marketwatch.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Premi umNewsletters_CampaignHulbert Interactive?siteid=mktw &dist=JSAFimT .  Any newsletter can have a great year, but is it indeed worthy if you have a successful performance over the long term.

One possible general market newsletter is one published by Standard & Poor’s, The Outlook by S&P
http://erecom.standardandpoors.com/er_docs/ECOMM/SPO/html/about_outlook.htm.  It provides general and specific investment ideas and stock recommendations.

 

Online Financial Research Companies

These are fee based

 

Financial Television & Their Online Sites

Here are a few TV stations that also have online sites.

 

Financial Newspapers

There are two main financial newspapers that have both print and electronic subscriptions:

 

Financial Magazines

Magazines: Here is a list of some of the major financial magazines (again, some offer online versions):