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If you’re remodeling your kitchen, you probably turn to a licensed contractor. Planning an expensive European vacation or Hawaiian honeymoon? You may very well have a travel agent handle the booking.

So, why, when planning your financial future, wouldn’t you seek out professional help?  It’s common sense. Yet only 17% of Americans avail themselves of a financial advisor.

Picking the right financial professional can take some homework — you’ll want to do your due diligence in terms of research, but also meet up (in person or online) with a potential planner, too.

Choosing a financial planner is one of the most important financial decisions you will make. This decision takes some research but partnering with the right financial planner can provide confidence today and a more secure tomorrow.

Here’s how to choose the right financial advisor for you

Here’s a brief look at some of the types of financial advisor you might encounter:

  • Financial advisor: This is a generic, catch-all term for financial planners who provide money-related advice in exchange for compensation. Advisors offer an array of services, from investment management and estate planning to income-tax preparation. They generally must be licensed in order to conduct business with the public.
    Financial advisors may go by various titles, including wealth manager, investment advisor and financial consultant. Some advisors may be stockbrokers, insurance agents, estate planners and bankers, as well, among other professions.
  • Fee-based financial planner: This is an advisor whose income is based on a combination of commissions on financial products they sell and fees for financial planning.
  • Fee-only financial planner: An advisor whose earnings come from direct fees to clients, rather than commissions or other sources. They may charge by the hour or with flat fees.
  • Hybrid advisor: This advisor has passed the General Securities Representative Exam; has a separate license to give financial-planning advice; and owns their own registered investment advisory (RIA) firm registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission or analogous state securities regulatory authority.
  • Dually registered advisor: These advisors wears two hats. They are affiliated with a broker-dealer and are registered under that broker-dealer’s corporate firm.

Then there’s the matter of professional certifications — those aforementioned acronyms. It’s said there are more than 200 designations available to financial advisors.

Certified Financial Advisors have the knowledge required to deliver holistic financial planning. This is important because when choosing a financial advisor, you want them to develop a comprehensive plan and help you find the appropriate path to achieving your financial goals.

Find out where some of the top certified Financial Advisors are near you.