How do I find a financial planner or retirement advisor?
March 17, 2014 7:14 AM   Subscribe

We need a financial planner in Los Angeles. Or an advisor, I don't know the difference. Difficulty level: poorly organized procrastinators. My husband will be retiring in 3-4 years. I don't reach retirement age for several years more, though I could take "early retirement" from my company next year. Between us we have 2 pensions, 2 401Ks, 2 health insurance plans, a bit in savings bonds and a tiny IRA. We have a house that will be paid off in 3 years. And we have a lot of things we want to do in retirement. We're doing reasonably well negotiating where we'd like to live and what kind of place, but we have no idea what we can afford and/or if I can afford to retire with him.

We'd like to work with a financial advisor/ planner to help us figure all this out. We want to pay someone a straight fee for this, not pay someone who is on a commission or who gets a fee for handling a sale or trade.

What are we looking for? A company, a person? What search terms should I be using? Is there a license for this sort of thing or can anyone hang up a shingle? What's the basic competency level?

We're in Los Angeles, if you have a great recommendation for someone specific.

posted by SLC Mom to Work & Money (3 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'd start here--for a fee only financial planner.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:52 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Right, or make an appt at the local Fidelity Investments office and talk to them. They've been excellent advisers for me, in somewhat similar circumstances.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 9:40 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm a Financial Adviser for one of the top firms in the US. I get all of my clients through referrals so my suggestion is to start there. Is there someone at your work that you respect? I'd reach out to the best people you know and see if they work with someone.

I've worked at several firms over the years; I feel strongly it's not the company who the Adviser works at, it's how honest, talented, and experienced they are. You can find plenty great people working at wirehouses or working independently.

When interviewing advisers, and yes you should interview more than one (a good adviser will also be interviewing you to determine if it's a good fit), be sure to ask about their process. If they design portfolios for each client or have turn- key solutions. Do they provide financial planning that is update over time? Things like that.

Also, find out how many clients they have. In my opinion having a lot of clients gets in the way and can be actually worse. Related to this, do not work with a new-ish Adviser. You do not want to be someone's practice account. I'd shoot for at least 6 years at the minimum and hopefully more than 10 years. On the other side of that, I've seen many burnt out advisers just going through the motions so be cautious and pay attention to their level of engagement.

Pay attention to fees but don't let that get in the way of good ideas. Total return net of fees is what should be looked at.

I think that's a good start. Good luck!
posted by thekorruptor at 5:06 PM on March 18, 2014

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