The Different Types of Advisors

Lone Wolf of Wall Street: the Advisor Honesty Question

A contender for Best Picture at the recent Oscars was The Wolf of Wall Street. The flick, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, chronicles the sleazy life and times of a financial advisor. Modeled on real-life penny stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who did prison time for scamming customers, the story leaves filmgoers with a bad taste in their mouths about advisors.

Only one problem: The vast majority of financial advisors are honest. How do I know this?

Are Advisors Worth the Fee?

If you pay your financial advisor to constantly get you returns that always go up, you throw money away. You must work alongside your investments, and here’s how.

You may believe your investments – instead of you saving more – do all the heavy lifting of personal finance. The goal of good returns instead of saving may work for those younger than 45. After 45, saving more becomes the goal and replaces reaching for returns (and exposing yourself to more risk).

5 Signs You Need a Planner

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you need professional help for a problem or if you can handle it yourself. Whether it’s taking care of a common cold, fixing the sink, changing the oil in your car or doing your own taxes. The same question often arises about finances.

The Questions Advisors Ask

You or your financial advisors rely on many tools to explore and improve your financial situation. Here’s why one of the most critical is curiosity.

Financial planning software abounds for financial planners and individuals. To me, asking questions and the dialog they create might constitute the most important financial planning tool.

When I first speak with you, the prospective client, either in person on the phone, I ask many questions.

Advisor Types: What’s Real?

When you hire someone to advise you about finances, and he calls himself a “financial advisor,” what does that mean? Answer: not much. Anyone can open an office and call himself a financial advisor. That’s just marketing hype.

There are only three terms that matter about people who provide financial advice: a Registered Representative, a Registered Investment Adviser and a financial planner. To function under these names, an adviser must pass a grueling series of tests, and is regulated.

Fixing a Broken Retirement

The state of Americans’ retirement preparation is shocking. Why is this, and what can people do about it?

PBS ran its Frontline documentary "The Retirement Gamble” in late October, just in time for Halloween. It's hard to watch this program without a sense of horror at the way our retirement plan system is rigged to rip off Americans struggling to save for their later years after working.

What’s Your Advisor’s Value?

A recent article in Financial Planning magazine, “Calculating an Advisor’s Value,” details the components of planning decisions that help you pinpoint the value of your financial advisor.

Tell an Advisor by the Letters

The capital letters after your advisor’s name denote more than alphabet soup. Here’s a breakdown of what the letters mean and how your advisor can – and cannot – help you.

As you seek advice regarding savings and investments, you come across professionals with capitalized designations after their names. Sometimes two letters, sometimes three, sometimes a string linked by commas and trademark symbols like railcars hooked together on a train.

Prized Advisor Title: In Trouble

For advisors, professional credentials mean something. But our clients should know that one of the most prized, Certified Financial Planner, or CFP, is endangered because of new wrongheaded rules.

This matters to you, in shopping for an advisor or working with one. You need to know what you are getting. Integrity. Trustworthiness. A commitment to clients' best interests. These are all essential qualities for any advisor you entrust with your financial affairs.

Advisors Taking Own Advice?

Choosing your right financial advisor comes down to your personal preferences. One great question: Does the advisors practice what they preach? If they don’t follow their own advice, why should you?

Some financial advice, of course, applies to you and not to the advisor, such as words of wisdom on reducing debt if the advisor doesn’t owe any (and manages money well to avoid it).

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