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5 tips for finding a financial professional who's the right fit for you

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Making decisions about your finances and creating an effective financial strategy without professional help can be challenging. But for many people, finding the right financial professional can be a little stressful too. After all, this person’s guidance can affect how you plan for a variety of financial goals — from sending your kids to college, to retiring comfortably to creating a plan for life’s unexpected twists and turns.

Interested in partnering with a financial professional but not sure where to start? These five tips can help you choose the financial professional that’s right for you.

1. Get references

Ask friends, relatives or colleagues to recommend financial professionals they use and trust. Be sure to ask for references and follow up on them.

2. Have a talk

Interview several candidates before making your final choice. This is a great way to get a feel for their personalities, experience, communication and work styles and whether you feel well matched. To help frame up the conversation, here are some questions you can ask.

3. Know how they’ll be compensated.

All financial professionals are paid for the services they provide. Here’s an overview of the three primary fee structures:

  • Commission-based professionals don’t charge you directly for their recommendations. You can ask the professional for more details about how he or she receives a commission.
  • Fee-only professionals don’t receive commissions or fees based on sales. Instead, they generally provide comprehensive financial planning services, and make their money from flat fees, hourly rates or a percentage of the assets they manage.
  • Fee-based professionals are a hybrid between commission-based and fee-only professionals. They charge you a fee for financial planning services and also sell financial products for which they receive commissions.

4. Do a background check.

Financial professionals can have a variety of licenses and credentials. These include licenses to sell life insurance, annuities and securities such as stocks and mutual funds, and professional credentials such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation.1 While there's no way to conduct a complete background review, you can check for these items, as well as legal or ethical issues that have been brought against financial professionals, using BrokerCheck from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Investment Adviser Search provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or your state's insurance department website.

5. Find out if their areas of expertise fit your needs.

Maybe you need advice on saving for college or retirement, managing your small business or estate planning. Whatever your life stage and financial needs, make sure your financial professional has expertise in the areas that are important to you and can help you meet your financial goals.

Remember, it’s all about you and your personal financial journey. Invest the time now to choose a financial professional who’s the right fit for you and you can enjoy the benefits of guidance and strategies to help you reach your future financial goals. Looking for a financial professional? We can help.

Want the most from your retirement? Get smarter with Smart Strategies from Athene. Your source for tips, tools and financial solutions that can help you live your best life.


1Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board) owns the CFP® certification mark, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification mark, and the CFP® certification mark (with plaque design) logo in the United States, which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.