How to choose a financial adviser

July 24, 2012 

When selecting a financial adviser, don't leave anything to chance. Do not assume that a referral from a friend will meet your specific or personal needs or goals.

Here are 10 questions you might ask before you continue with or seek a new financial adviser.

1. What experience do you have? Few things are as valuable as experience. Ask how long and where the financial adviser has practiced investment and financial planning.

2. What are your qualifications? Read the adviser's biography.

3. Any special degrees or designations? Theseindicate specialized knowledge.

4. What variety of services do you offer? The adviser should understand, design, implement

and manage your financial plan while acting as aninformal chief financial officer of your "family office."

5. What is your process to investing and financial planning? Choose a family office you can work with to serve you and your generational family. A way of electronically storing documents would be helpful.

6. Who will work with me? The adviser should have a team with a qualified staff.

7. How will I pay for your services? No one works for free, so learn about compensation, whether commission or fee based.

8. Do you make house calls? The adviser should make local house calls for everyone, the infirmed, family members, give seminars for your associations, meet your referrals, etc.

9. What does the adviser invest in? If it's good for the adviser, it might be good for you. It shows his core investment philosophy. Ask the adviser to describe his typical client. If it sounds similar to you, it could be a match.

10. Can I have it in writing? Talk is important, but paperwork is needed. Look for advisers who offer investment policy statements and use agendas.

James "Jim" Zientara, financial planner and registered investment agent with Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., can be reached at 941-750-6818, toll free at 877-750-6818, fax to 941-750-6816.

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