Web Resources for Finding a Financial Advisor
Gather as much information as possible when you're looking for a financial advisor to invest your money—especially during an unstable economy. Use the following web resources to locate and research a credible financial advisor:
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (click on Broker Check): The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the new name for the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD). If a financial advisor earns commissions on the sale of investment products they must be registered with FINRA. The Broker Check tool on the FINRA site can be informative but it is limited. Don't rely on this tool as your only method of checking out a financial advisor.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): People who get paid to give advice about investments generally must register with either the SEC or the state securities agency where they have their principal place of business. Be sure to request and read any prospective advisors' ADV forms.
The Form ADV has two parts. Part I has information about the advisor's business and may list problems the advisor has had with regulators or clients. However, the advisor is not required to report some things that you'd view as essential information in selecting an advisor. Part II outlines the advisor's investment services, fees, and investment strategies. Ask any prospective advisor for their ADV Part II and make sure that you read and understand what it says.
Certified Financial Planner: The Certified Financial Planner (or CFP) designation is the most widely recognized educational credential for financial advisors and planners. Visit www.cfp.net/search to locate a CFP practitioner in your area.
National Association of Personal Financial Advisors: The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is the country's largest membership organization of Fee-Only® financial advisors. To qualify for membership in NAPFA an advisor must provide comprehensive financial planning services, adhere to the organization's Fiduciary Oath, maintain all required licenses and registrations as a financial advisor, submit a comprehensive financial plan for peer review, and charge their clients exclusively on a Fee-Only® basis.
Garrett Planning Network: The Garrett Planning Network is the country's premier membership organization of Fee-Only® financial advisors who focus on providing competent objective advice to people from all walks of life. Members must be CFP professionals or in process of obtaining their CFP designation, abide by the CFP Code of Ethics and Professional Standards and the NAPFA Fiduciary Oath. Garrett advisors are prohibited from imposing any minimum fees, income, or asset requirements on the majority of their client engagements.