Question: I saw the article about the fellow who wanted to buy a car but was basically stonewalled by his financial adviser in terms of further communication. I had that same experience over the last year and a half and terminated my relationship, but have not yet found another person. I have annuities and two large CDs — and I’m in need of immediate financial advice with respect to the annuities as they continue to come out. What type of planner should I be looking for and how can I be certain I won’t end up in another disappointing relationship with an adviser?

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Answer: Even before you begin searching for a new adviser, it would be helpful for you to define your goals and what you expect from a relationship with an adviser, says certified financial planner Ryan Haiss at Flynn Zito Capital Management. “Think about what you want to accomplish, investment help, retirement planning or a comprehensive financial plan,” says certified financial planner Jim Jacobucci at Financial Finesse — who adds that you should think of both short-term needs and long-term expectations.

Once you know what you’re looking for, look for a fee-only adviser who works as a fiduciary, pros say — as this means that the adviser is only paid by the client (and does not work on commission, which could create a conflict of interest) and will put the clients best interest first.

“Interview at least 3 planners and if you can get a referral from a trusted friend, colleague or family member, all the better,” says Jacobucci. (Consult this MarketWatch Picks list of questions to ask a prospective planner.)

Have an issue with your financial adviser or looking for a new one? Email [email protected].

You’ll also want to think about what kind of advice you need. Advisers “can provide you advice on an ongoing basis, an hourly basis, as you need it — or perhaps on a retainer basis that has nothing to do with the assets you have,” says certified financial planner Bruce Primeau at Summit Wealth Advocates. 

Primeau says you may not need to pay someone on an ongoing basis (this is typically called an assets-under-management arrangement, and costs about 1% of your assets managed). That’s because the annuities are already annuitized and the payments are coming to you. “No need to pay someone an assets under management fee for those. The CDs are likely paying you 4% to 5.5% and again, don’t require an assets under management fee at this time,” says Primeau.

Instead, you might want a one-time financial plan, which is likely to cost somewhere between $1,500 and $5,000, depending on the level of complexity of your situation. You might also find it helpful to seek out an adviser who works under a flat-fee and then also gives you the option to continue with an hourly relationship. Most hourly planners charge between $150 and $450 per hour, but this way you can engage with a professional who is familiar with your situation on an as-needed basis. 

You can find advisers via the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), the Fee-Only Network or the CFP Board, pros say. “These organizations advocate strongly for individuals like you seeking holistic, competent fiduciary advice and financial planning,” says certified financial planner David Maurice at Worthwhile Wealth Council.

Looking for a new financial adviser too? This free tool can match your to a fiduciary adviser who might meet your needs.

Besides asking the right questions when interviewing a planner, you can also set expectations early on to ensure that you’re not disappointed with your advising relationship. Try to get clarity on what the relationship with your planner will look like, make sure your wishes are known in terms of how often and via what method you’d like to correspond, what your risk tolerance is and anything else you think the adviser should know so that there’s a smooth transition.

Have an issue with your financial adviser or looking for a new one? Email [email protected].


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