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How do I find a financial planner in the Chicago Western Suburbs?
October 29, 2012 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Is there a best way to go about finding and hiring a financial planner? I'm in the Western suburbs of Chicago and am not sure where to start the process or what are the key things to look for.

I was just let go from my job and will be getting my severance package in one lump sum, which is prompting the Mrs and I to get more serious about our finances. We're hoping to find someone that can offer advice on how to make the most of our money and steer us towards better financial decisions and planning. I've discussed some things with our 401k managers, but their advice is exclusively investment oriented. I'm hoping to find something more comprehensive. Is there a good recommendation service or can someone recommend a planner?
posted by Slack-a-gogo to Work & Money (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am not an expert on this but I can definitely say that fee-based (rather than people giving financial advice who work on commission) is absolutely the way you must go. This way you can ensure that the financial planner is working in your best interest only. Aside from that, I think just someone who is convenient, certified, and who you get along well with are probably all you need.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:41 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Get references from people you know who have money and have had it for a while. If you don't know anyone like that, get references from people you know who work in successful mid-sized or smaller law or accounting firms -- financial planners are a very important part of those firms' mutual client referral networks, and they'll know reputable ones.
posted by MattD at 2:10 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


The more I look into this the more I keep ending up at services that almost exclusively focus on investing. I know investing and 401k management is an essential part of financial planning, but I'm also looking for help on budgeting and reviewing our expenses and figuring out if we're being foolish with our money. Is that even what financial planners do?

Unfortunately I've yet to find friends or family that have any practical advice. The standard response is closer to "let me know what you find, we really need to do that too".
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 3:02 PM on October 29, 2012


Take a look at the NAPFA website, it has a list of questions to ask potential planners, one being, "Do you provide comprehensive financial planning or just investment management?" It sounds like you want comprehensive. Make a list of questions you'd like answered and start interviewing. I would also ask them if there are questions that you didn't think to ask.
posted by shoesietart at 3:36 PM on October 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I know investing and 401k management is an essential part of financial planning, but I'm also looking for help on budgeting and reviewing our expenses and figuring out if we're being foolish with our money. Is that even what financial planners do?

Yes, many fee-only planners do this, although the investment advisors who are compensated by "assets under management" also refer to themselves as fee only. Advisors who are only compensated by the plan, or by the hour are still rare but definitely exist.

NAPFA is a good place to start. I've heard Angie's list is good, but I don't know if they're national or only here on the west coast. I would keep asking, and don't be afraid to ask investment managers if they know anyone who does this. (The fields aren't really competition for each other so most advisors feel it's kosher.)
posted by small_ruminant at 3:44 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Beside NAPFA, I've heard fee-only advisors who are part of the Garrett Planning Network. This is not an endorsement- I haven't used them.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:54 PM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yep, ask around for recommendations. Make an hour-or-so appointment with a couple of planners and get to know them. They should explain their fees, their style, and ask you a lot of questions about your desires, assets, income, fears, etc. They shouldn't give you a hard time about asking for a chance to get to know them as long as you are up front with the fact that you are shopping for a planner, and have not done so in the past.

It will seem creepy at first, but in a lot of ways it's like finding a good doctor -- think of them as a "money doctor" if it helps separate you from any issues about discussing money. Most of them are pretty nice, and you should be able to spot the scumbags pretty quickly.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:51 AM on October 31, 2012


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