February 15, 2011

How to Find a Financial Advisor: NAPFA Publishes Consumer Guide

‘The Pursuit of a Financial Advisor Field Guide’ spells out where to look, what to ask

NAPFA's 'Pursuit of a Financial Advisor Field Guide' NAPFA's 'Pursuit of a Financial Advisor Field Guide'

To help Americans find a financial advisor, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) has published a consumer guide that is now available on its website.

NAPFA, which bills itself as “the nation’s leading organization dedicated to the advancement of fee-only comprehensive financial planning,” created The Pursuit of a Financial Advisor Field Guide in its drive to promote fiduciary standards for broker-dealers as well as investment advisers.

While many American consumers may want to hire an advisor, say NAPFA officials, they often don’t know where to start looking for one or what to ask when they interview potential advisors to help them with their personal finances.

“The most important thing for people to keep in mind is to understand their expectations are—what they want to accomplish and what they want the relationship to be,” said NAPFA Chair Susan John in an interview on Tuesday.

NAPFA board member Lauren Locker added that consumers should interview several candidates to find an advisor whose skills and interests match their personal-finance goals.

Published as an online “flip book” full of weblinks to the Securities and Exchange Commission and other watchdog groups, The Pursuit of a Financial Advisor Field Guide encompasses seven sections, including:

  • Preparation for the Pursuit – explores credentials, compensation, discipline, elements of financial planning, and differences in standards (fiduciary versus suitability)
  • Knowing What To Ask – provides 26 questions and answers consumers need to keep in mind when talking with advisors
  • Selecting Where to Look – examines the best sources available for finding advisors
  • Evaluating Potential Advisors – discusses what must be covered in introductory meetings and conversations with potential advisors
  • Engagement – uncovers the information and documentation that must be provided by the advisor at the time of engagement
  • Evaluating Your Advisor – presents the criteria that consumers can use to evaluate their advisor’s performance on several metrics
  • Additional Tools and Resources – offers consumers several tools from credible organizations and agencies

The guide can also be downloaded and shared via email or printed.

“NAPFA is always looking for ways to help consumers understand the financial services industry. The more we can do to educate the consumer the more likely they will make better financial choices,” according to John.

Read about NAPFA’s reaction to the SEC’s fiduciary study at AdvisorOne.com.

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