Arc Guide to Choosing a Financial Planner

What Can a Financial Planner Do for Me and My Family?

Financial planners can help you create a financial plan for the future. A plan is designed to help you reach financial goals based on your current situation and budget. You can also meet with a financial planner to update your current plan. They can help answer questions like:

  • How do I increase my finances to meet my retirement, school and special needs trust goals?
  • Which investments are right for me?
  • Am I using my company benefits correctly?
  • Am I taking full advantage of ways to reduce taxes?
  • Am I insured properly for life, disability, and long-term care concerns?


How do I find a Financial Planner?

  • Ask for the names of financial planning professionals from friends, neighbors, family, or business colleagues.
  • Use Google or Bing to find financial planners in your area. You can also use Financial Planner Search. Look for one that has a disability and estate planning specialization.
  • Make sure the financial planner is registered with FINRA, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or a state insurance or securities regulator.
    • FNRA’s BrokerCheck can help you find registration and other background information on these professionals.
  • Do not rush. Do your homework looking into professionals and preparing your questions.
  • Talk with several professionals. Meet them face-to-face in their offices, if possible and accessible.


What Questions Should I Ask Before Hiring a Financial Planner?

Ask The Financial Planner:

  • How often do you work with families who have disabilities?
  • What are your areas of specialization?
  • Do you have any professional designations or licenses?
  • Financial planners go by many names (advisors, brokers, etc.).
  • Depending on their title, some planners may need to complete tests, attend classes, or get a certificate. Some do not.
  • The financial planner should be able to give you information about why they are qualified to help you.
  • What is your educational or professional background?
  • What products and services do you offer?
  • Do they offer any protection in case something happens to their business?
  • What is your investment experience?
  • Do you have references?

Ask Yourself:

  • Do you feel comfortable with this person?
  • Can you be open with all the facts about your current money situation?
  • What are your financial goals? What type of financial services do you need?
  • Do you have the documents you need for the meeting?
  • Assets (pay, retirement accounts, life insurance, etc.)
  • Legal documents (divorce or custody papers, estate plan documents, etc.)
  • Government benefit information (Social Security, Medical Assistance, etc.)
  • Planning Guide, Person-centered plans, Letter of intent
  • Previous Financial Plan documents


How Are Fees Typically Determined?

It is okay to ask about fees. Investment professionals are typically paid:

  • An hourly fee
  • A flat fee
  • A commission on the investment products they sell you
  • A percentage of the value of the assets they manage for you
  • A combination of fees and commissions
  • Ask if they receive any additional money based on the products they sell—for instance, selling a particular mutual fund or other investment product.
  • Many planners provide a free consultation.