Planning For the Future: What to Look For In a Financial Advisor

Americans planning to retire at sixty-five need between $1 million and $1.5 million in retirement savings. Reaching that goal on your own can be tough. A financial advisor can help.

But how do you know what to look for in a financial advisor? Keep reading now to find out.

What the Best Financial Advisors Do

A financial planner is a fiscal professional who helps you define and reach your monetary goals. While that sounds straightforward enough, many Americans planning for retirement find themselves unclear on exactly what makes a good financial advisor and how to find one.

A good planner will:

  • Help you assess what you have
  • Assist you in setting reasonable and appropriate goals based on your needs and personal priorities
  • Advise you on how to save or invest your existing assets to reach your goals
  • Show you how to protect and make the most of your assets now and in the future

Obviously, since you will be entrusting this person with your assets and your dreams for the future, it is important to choose your advisor carefully. Inexperienced or untrustworthy advisors can bring you to financial ruin.

With this in mind, you may be asking, “okay, but how do I find a financial advisor near me that I can trust to do all those things?”

What to Look for in a Financial Advisor

There are four primary factors that can help you easily and reliably find the right financial advisor.

  • Certifications
  • Cost structure
  • Comfort level


Almost anyone can claim to be a financial planner. To find someone genuinely qualified, look for planners with one or more of the following legal certifications:

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC)

Don’t be afraid to look up a prospective advisor through the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or FINRA’s free Broker Check tool. Keep in mind that different planners may specialize in different things. Choose a certified professional whose experience lines up with your needs.

Cost Structures

Financial planners typically use one of three cost structures.

  • Fee-only
  • Commission
  • Combination

Flat-rate fees for services make it easy to see what you’re paying for and what you’re getting. Commission structures, meanwhile, give your planner a vested interest in making you money. Combination plans try to leverage the best of both worlds.

Which option is right for you will depend on your personal risk tolerance and preferences.

Comfort level

Choose a financial planner you are comfortable with. Your planner should communicate with you using your preferred methods and frequency of contact. Leading firms such as Bogart Wealth model this by putting the power in your hands via online portals and other empowering, user-friendly tools.

Never work with a planner who doesn’t make you feel that they welcome your questions or who doesn’t genuinely listen to and respect your priorities.

How to Choose a Financial Advisor

Now that you know what to look for in a financial advisor, you’re ready to dig into the retirement planning process. Browse our other articles for more great tips, tricks, and tools to help you build the wealth you need for retirement.