Financial Planner or Advisor in San Francisco
April 16, 2013 10:57 PM   Subscribe

Do I need a (fee-based) financial planner, advisor, or tax accountant? Recommendations for one in San Francisco? I'm almost 30, almost debt-free, and feeling out of my depth as I try to figure out what to do about non-retirement savings.

I'm getting to that place where I'd like to take better care of my finances. I've done a good amount of reading at various points in the past so I'm not totally clueless.

But besides starting retirement savings (Roth IRA, no 401k at work at the moment), paying off student loans, and having a cash emergency fund, I'm not sure what else I should be doing.

Should I be consulting with a financial planner? Advisor? Tax accountant? All of the above?
posted by polexa to Work & Money (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If I were you, I would manage your money on your own. If you are willing to do even just a little reading you have enough aptitude to manage your money responsibly and effectively. Skip the financial planner.

Caveat: I'm assuming, because you contribute to an IRA and have student loans, that you aren't especially wealthy. If you are, ignore more advice and speak to an advisor.

Taxes are a different story. This completely depends on your situation. Do you itemize or not? Do you own your own business? Do you have material investment or capital gains income? If you're like most people, you can skip the accountant, too. Plenty of great/cheap software options out there.

You might consider speaking to an estate attorney, but given your age you're fine delaying here, too.

Max our your Roth every year and diversify (indexes, ETFs, etc), and you'll be ahead of 95% of your fellow Americans.
posted by blueplasticfish at 11:17 PM on April 16, 2013

Doesn't sound like your situation is unique enough (or that you are wealthy enough) to require a financial professional. Sounds like you are trying to be perfect, when in reality you just need to GET STARTED. By the way, every discount brokerage offers free consultations, so you can check with a human being to make sure you're not making a grievous error.

I recommend the Bogleheads book.
posted by acidic at 11:26 PM on April 16, 2013

Response by poster: A little clarification: I have "started" already (actually almost as soon as I started working full-time), but I can now do more than invest in mutual funds in my IRA. In particular, this year my student loans will be paid off and that will free up a lot of cash in my budget.

I included the tax part because a) I feel like I could be doing something to reduce my tax burden but I don't know what b) I don't have capital gains now, but if I started investing outside of a retirement account, I would have do deal with that, right?
posted by polexa at 8:47 AM on April 17, 2013

I would probably start talking to a retirement specialist about how to best supplement an IRA. I'm guessing you'd probably want to put your risk in the IRA, and keep your tax advantaged bonds outside your IRA. Once you go that route, investing in a real CPA for tax season is probably just smart.

Outside of that, I would slowly build up a comfortable reserve until I have 6+ months saved up, and then start thinking about what I want out of my excess money. Do I want stability of a house? Flexibility of a giant emergency fund? Saving for a large wedding and kids? Retire Early?

Once you actually have your Life Goals in place, that should hopefully give you a better idea of who you want advice from.
posted by politikitty at 3:37 PM on April 17, 2013

Best answer: I would agree with blueplasticfish that you can probably do it yourself, and definitely second acidic's recommendation for the Bogleheads book. Eric Tyson's Personal Finance for Dummies is also really good.

There's a ton of great advice over at, including both their forums and their excellent wiki pages.

If you'd like to try out a fee-only financial planner, the Boglehead forum members tend to recommend the Garrett Planning Network. I know a couple who have used (and been happy with) a Garrett-related planner, but they're on the east coast; I don't know anyone who's used one in SF.
posted by kristi at 9:11 PM on April 17, 2013

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