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Investing involves risk and no situation is the same. This is in no way intended as a personal recommendation and investment decisions are solely those of the reader.

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7 Crucial Questions  to Ask a Financial Advisor Right Now

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SmartAsset is a personal finance technology company that features a financial advisor matching service. Financial Advisors who appear on SmartAsset are from companies with which SmartAsset receives compensation. SmartAsset takes into consideration wealth and location to determine how to match users with advisors. SmartAsset doesn't include the entire universe of Financial Advisors.

When you're planning for retirement and navigating a fluctuating market, it's important to do your due diligence, especially before making any serious financial moves. 

One of the most prudent ways to accomplish this by seeking professional advice. 

A 2019 Northwestern Mutual study found that U.S. adults who work with a financial advisor report “substantially greater financial security, confidence and clarity than those who go it alone.”

The value of working with a financial advisor varies by person and advisors are legally prohibited from promising returns, but research suggests average additional investment returns can range from 1.5% to 4% more each year. 

SmartAsset’s new tool makes it easy to find the right financial advisor near you in just a few minutes. Our exclusive, no-cost tool matches you with up to three local fiduciary financial advisors that have passed a rigorous screening process. We confirm each is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the appropriate state regulator, possess the proper licenses and have no pending or valid regulatory disclosures within the past 10 years.

When you're hiring a financial advisor, these are seven imperative questions to ask.

1. Are you a fiduciary? 

This means that the advisor is legally bound to act in your best financial interests. While registered investment advisors (“RIAs”) adhere to this standard, others such as stockbrokers have lower accountability thresholds.

All of the financial advisors on SmartAsset’s matching platform are registered fiduciaries. If your advisor is not a fiduciary and constantly pushes investment products on you, use this no-cost tool to find an advisor who has your best interest in mind.

2. How do you advise in a volatile market? 

Advisors have a range of investing strategies available to them, and some may be more aligned with your risk preferences. If your primary goal is preservation of wealth, for example, that may require a different approach than pursuing aggressive growth. 

3. What happens to my account if you become seriously sick or incapacitated? 

It’s important that there is a contingency plan to cover client services - and that you know what it is and that you are comfortable with it. If your advisor is an owner or managing member, particularly at a small firm, you should know who else has banking and trading authority and if there is a succession plan in the event your advisor suddenly dies or leaves the firm.

4. How will you be compensated and what fees will I be paying? 

Many financial advisors charge a percentage of assets under management or a fixed fee. However, some receive commissions on the sale of certain investments, which creates a conflict of interest.

It can be difficult to assess all the fees involved in certain investments. Different investments have different types of fees, and in cases such as annuities, for example, they can be substantial. 

5. Do you have any disclosures? 

Disclosures can refer to any past regulatory, criminal or disciplinary actions on an advisor’s record. These can be big red flags when deciding who to work with. You can search for these on the SEC website. None of the advisors on SmartAsset's matching platform have regulatory disclosures within the past 10 years.

6. What certifications do you have? 

Certifications can be a good indicator of an advisor’s level of expertise. Two of the most notable designations are the certified financial planner (CFP) and chartered financial consultant (ChFC). Both require an advisor to have a certain level of experience, complete coursework, submit to a background check and abide by a set of ethical standards.

7. What types of clients do you specialize in? 

Some financial advisors work exclusively with wealthy individuals and their families. Others may work specifically with business owners or people in a certain professional fields, such as doctors or university employees. Choosing an advisor who works with clients whose situations are similar to yours means he or she will be better equipped to offer the type of guidance and advice you need.

The Best Way to Protect Your Portfolio in a Volatile Market

A fiduciary financial advisor can help assess and optimize your portfolio and retirement plan. They can also help determine if there are additional steps you can take to reduce taxes and potentially increase your returns.

Chances are, there are several highly qualified financial advisors in your town. However, it can seem daunting to choose one. 

Our no-cost tool makes it easy to find the right financial advisor for you. Now you can get matched with up to three local fiduciary investment advisors that have been rigorously screened for regulatory disclosures and to confirm their licenses. The entire matching process takes just a few minutes.

Follow These Steps to Get Matched With the Right Advisor for You

1. Simply enter your ZIP code below.

2. After you enter your ZIP code and answer questions about your financial goals, you can compare up to three local advisors and decide which to work with.

3. Make better-informed financial decisions!

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