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Tips for Picking a Financial Adviser Comments

financial planning

Women need to get the max from their money to cover longer lifespans and the occasional career hiatus.

"But I don't have that kind of money!" you might say. These days, getting the help of a pro doesn't have to cost much. Investing in one hour with a planner could add tens of thousands to your nest egg—and women need that boost. Start here:

Know the type. Fee-only advisers charge flat rates (expect to pay about $100–$250 an hour). Some advisers charge a rate based on a percentage of assets under management (usually 1% to 2%).

Others earn commissions by selling you insurance policies and investment products. While commission-based planners are common, expect some bias and hard sells. We recommend fee-only advisers. Check NAPFA.org for some in your area.

 Hold auditions. Send candidates a questionnaire like the one in The Financial Planning Workbook for Dummies by Sheryl Garrett, founder of the Garrett Planning Network. Or use the questions as a guide if you’re chatting in person.

Reveal only as much as you feel comfortable: You don’t have to explain or justify your situation up front, Garrett says. And you don’t have to forge a life-long relationship. Basic plans and spot-checks are fine. Check ‘em out. Set up “get acquainted” meetings and ask each adviser to write up a proposal, including their fees, Garrett advises.

Check for complaints with regulators—FINRA or the SEC. Then vet their accreditation. One reliable and common designation is CFP (Certified Financial Planner), which you can verify online.

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