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Talk to several financial planners before picking.

Byline: Ilene Aleshire The Register-Guard

If you're looking for a financial planner to help you get your finances in order, or perhaps plan for retirement, or for your children's education, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards suggests you interview several planners to find the one that is the best fit. The board of standards says, that, for a start, there are 10 questions you should ask.

1. What experience do you have? This includes finding out how long a planner has been practicing, and what type of work experience he or she has.

2. What are your qualifications? Ask whether they hold a financial planning designation or certification, such as certified financial planner. If they do, check their background with the relevant agency such as the Certified Financial Planner board.

3. What services do you offer? These depend on a variety of factors, such as credentials and areas of expertise. Generally, financial planners cannot sell insurance or securities products such as mutual funds or stocks without the proper licenses, or give investment advice unless registered with state or federal authorities.

4. What is your approach to financial planning? Make sure the planner's viewpoint is not more cautious or more aggressive than you are comfortable with. Find out if they will carry out the recommendations they put together for you or refer you to someone else.

5. Will you be the only person working with me? If you will be working with other people in the planner's office, you may want to meet them. If the planner works with other professionals, such as attorneys or insurance agents, get a list of names so that you can check on their backgrounds.

6. How will I pay for your services? Ask whether they are paid a salary by the company they work for, if they charge a flat rate or hourly fee or if they charge based on your assets or income, or if there is a combination of fees and commissions. And get it in writing.

7. How much do you typically charge? The planner should be able to give you an estimate based on the work they will be doing for you.

8. Could anyone besides me benefit from your recommendations? Ask the planner to provide you with a written description of any conflicts of interest.

9. Have you ever been publicly disciplined for any unlawful or unethical actions in your professional career? Ask what organizations the planner is regulated by and do a background check on the planner by contacting the organizations. All financial planners who have registered as investment advisers with the Securities and Exchange Commission or state securities agencies, or who are associated with a company that is registered as an investment adviser, must be able to provide you with a disclosure form called Form ADV Part II or the state equivalent of that form.

10. Can I have it in writing? Ask the planner to provide you with a written agreement that details the services that will be provided. Keep this document in your files for future reference.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 30, 2009
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