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Keep these tips in mind when choosing your financial planner

Do your homework before choosing a financial planner,

Do your homework before choosing a financial planner, experts say. Credit: Getty Images/kate_sept2004

There are three crucial times when you really want to make the right choice — when you pick your spouse, your doctor and your financial planner. Matters of the heart, health and wealth are as critical as they come.

For now, think about the person who will handle your money. “I know of no other industry where people go for professional help and often end up worse than they started,” says Michael Tanney, director of Magnus Financial Group in Manhattan.

Here’s how to avoid making mistakes.

Decide how much help you need

"The biggest consideration when choosing a financial planner is what level of advice and service you need," says Arielle O’Shea, an investing and retirement specialist with "If you want help building an investment portfolio, you can get that at a robo-adviser very inexpensively — you likely don't need to pay the premium that comes with a human adviser.

"But if you want more holistic advice, have a complicated financial situation or need someone you can call on to keep you accountable, you may want a human adviser,” adds O’Shea.

Choose a fee-only certified financial planner

How the adviser is paid is huge part of this puzzle. If someone charges a fee for their advice, that means they are paid only by you. Therefore, they don't have incentives to suggest products or services that would earn them a commission.

Ask the adviser if he or she is a fiduciary. Why is that important?

There are many reasons. For one thing, they must put the client’s best interests over their own. Second, they have to disclose the pros and cons of every recommendation. Lastly, they have to disclose their compensation and conflicts of interest up front.

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