Choosing a Financial Planning Advisor

When choosing a financial planning advisor, there are several factors to consider. These include the fee-based model, specializations, and credentials. Fee-based financial advisors will often be more knowledgeable about investment planning than non-fee-based financial advisors. Credentialed financial planners have undergone rigorous training and have a broad range of experience.


Fee-based financial planning has many benefits over the commission-based model. These advantages include the recent tax reform, uncertainty surrounding the U.S. Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Rule, and the ever-evolving capabilities of automation. A fee-based financial planning advisor may have a variety of specialties, including estate planning, business planning, and employee benefits.

Fee-based financial planning advisors typically get paid a retainer fee or hourly rate. Unlike commission-based financial advisors, fee-based advisors are always available to review your portfolio and provide recommendations. Their fiduciary duty to their clients means that they put your financial interests first. This means they can’t sell you an investment product that does not match your needs.

The process of hiring a fee-based financial planning advisor depends on your unique situation. You can use the Financial Planning Association’s online directory to find a planner near you. You can filter the search by location and select “fee-only” in the financial planners’ profiles.


As a financial planning advisor, you have a broad range of tasks to perform. These include designing and implementing a financial plan for clients. Financial planning advisors also provide investment management advice. They manage client portfolios and oversee investment decisions, including rebalancing and monitoring. These advisors also have to be current on market trends and changes to industry regulations. They may also market their services to new clients.

While most financial planners provide general advice, some focus on particular areas of expertise. For instance, some may specialize in retirement planning, while others may focus on risk financial management. Their specialized knowledge helps clients address their needs and distinguishes them from the competition. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in financial planning are expected to grow by 5% from 2014 to 2030. This growth rate is lower than the average for all occupations, but it should remain steady for the next several years.

Whether you’re an experienced advisor or just starting out, a CDFA designation is the perfect way to gain new skills and knowledge in your field. Chartered Special Needs Consultants (CSNC) financial advisors specialize in serving families with special needs. Their education emphasizes special needs planning, including how to protect loved ones in the event of a disability or death. They also help families make plans for long-term care and other expenses, as well as assist with government benefits.


Credentials of financial planning advisors can help investors understand the level of expertise and professionalism of the financial planners they’re considering. A good financial planner should be regulated by one or more professional organizations, and hold a securities license. You can also check for complaints against an advisor’s credentials through the FINRA brokerage.

Financial planners who are CFP(r) certified have completed hundreds of hours of coursework and passed a rigorous exam. Those with CFP(r) credentials have a special knowledge of financial planning and investment strategies, and their expertise can differentiate them from those without credentials. If you’re unsure whether a financial planner holds one of these credentials, you can consult the FINRA website, which provides a list of financial industry credentials. The website lists professional designations by name, as well as the education required to earn them.

There are also additional credentials that financial planners may hold. The CFP certification is the most widely recognized and highly-regarded in the industry. Applicants must complete certain education requirements, pass an exam, and adhere to a strict code of ethics. Additionally, many employers prefer financial planning advisors who are CFP certified.