Financial planners are paid in one of three ways
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.
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).
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.
Magazines: Here is a list of some of the major financial magazines (again, some offer online versions):