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How to find a financial advisor

So many people I know "have a guy" who handles their finances. Usually they were referred to the person by a friend or family member. And that's about it. Kind of like the "guy" you go toat the hardware store when you want to buy the right fix for a leaking pipe. But this is your life savings; wouldn't you want to conduct at least a little due diligence?

When times are going well we don't usually think to read the terms of our insurance policies or our health plan. But that's precisely when you should -- before there's a problem.

I've written previously why I think the worst person handling your money in most cases is a broker. A registered investment advisor (RIA) is a good option and usually the most affordable is a fee-only advisor who you'll pay to set up a plan for you. There's little reason to give someone a percentage of your hard earned savings every year when all you need is to be headed in the right direction.

If you want to find someone right for you in your area go to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). You'll find an excellent checklist there with questions that will help you focus on a successful investment plan.

Before selecting your advisor be sure to have the scoop on his/her expertise, education and potential concerns here: SEC

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