It’s fall. The car needs an oil change. And you’re having that get-a-grip-on-my-money moment. Item #1: You need a financial adviser, but how do you choose the right qualifications?
If you need a big-picture, long-term plan:
- CFP: A certified financial planner has completed a years of training, tests, and work experience, and can map out a plan that gets you from asset accumulation to asset drawdown. A solid choice for the long haul.
- CPA with PFS: A certified public accountant (CPA) with a personal finance specialty is a good combo if you need a financial plan, and lots of tax advice.
- You probably don’t want: A CFA (chartered financial analyst) as these folks generally focus on investments, and won’t deliver a soup-to-nuts plan. A ChFC (chartered financial consultant) has similar training to a CFP, but without the qualifying board exam. A good runner-up.
If you need investment advice:
- RIA: A registered investment adviser can be an individual or firm that helps you with your investment strategy, not your overall plan. RIAs are also fiduciaries, meaning they have to put your financial well-being first.
If you’re going through a divorce:
- CDFA: Certified divorce financial analysts can help you negotiate your divorce settlement. They aren't financial planners, unless otherwise noted.