5 Tips to Find a Financial Advisor for Seniors
Americans generally don’t score well when it comes to financial literacy. People of all ages struggle with finding the right mix of investing, saving and spending; but seniors face a number of unique issues when it comes to managing their finances well.
You have to figure out how to live comfortably on your retirement savings and social security. You have to think about the long-term expenses of aging in place and senior care. Many seniors will also experience dementia or memory issues that make it increasingly difficult to stay on top of their finances – something it’s better to prepare for long before you reach that point.
For many families, money issues like these are a lot to figure out on your own. Working with a financial advisor can help you create a long-term financial plan and break down how to handle your spending each month to achieve it. But it’s important to find a financial advisor that’s ethical, knowledgeable and able to help you with your particular situation.
Here are a few tips to find someone that checks all those boxes:
1. Ask for referrals.
A recommendation from someone you know is always a strong place to start when finding someone for just about any need. Ask around to see if you have friends and family who have worked with financial advisors before. If you’re on social media, ask for recommendations there.
Different advisors have different specialties, so don’t assume off the bat all the recommendations you receive will be a good fit. If people offer up suggestions, go a little deeper and ask them about their particular experience with that financial advisor to learn more, and do some Googling to see what their website and reviews can tell you.
2. Check industry databases.
If asking around didn’t get you a list of good options, have no fear. There are a few professional databases you can search to find qualified financial planners in your area:
- Certified Financial Planners (CFP): This directory has listings for Certified Financial Planners. It allows you to limit the results by specialties including Elder Care, Retirement Income Management and Retirement Planning, and you can limit results to fee-only professionals here as well.
- Financial Planning Association (FPA): This is a listing of everyone with Certified Financial Planner status that’s a member of the Financial Planning Association. After putting in your location information, you can narrow your results based on specialty (including Life Planning and Retirement) and you can limit your results to fee-only professionals (recommended for reasons explained in #3).
- National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA): This is a listing of fee-only financial advisors that are members of the association. They also offer filters based on specialties.
If you’re considering recommendations you got from friends, it’s worth running the names through these directories so you can verify if they’re certified and make sure they’re legitimate.
3. Make sure they’re a fiduciary.
Fiduciaries are legally required to work in the best interests of their clients. Other financial advisors aren’t necessarily fraudulent, but they make at least some of their money by recommending specific products from banks and insurance companies that pay them for the recommendation. It’s difficult for them to be 100% sure if they’re suggesting something that’s truly the best option for you, or if they’re just getting paid to say that.
For that reason, a fiduciary is the way to go. You can narrow your search down to just fiduciaries by looking for financial advisors that say they’re “fee-only” or that show up in the NAPFA search above.
4. Don’t put too much trust in titles.
Not all certifications are equal. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has found over 50 fake or misleading credentials that target seniors specifically. Knowing the difference between the legitimate titles and the ones that just sound good is hard for anyone to do though.
You can do a quick search for certifications claimed by a financial advisor in Paladin’s credential checker to learn if they’re legitimate and what they can actually tell you about a person’s experience and knowledge.
5. Meet in person.
Any search for the right financial advisor has to include this step. Use the tips above to determine a few good possibilities (and weed out those that aren’t a good fit) and then set up a few appointments to talk.
Come prepared with details about your financial situation, your long-term goals and any questions you have.
Finding a good financial advisor can be tricky, but once you do, you’ll have a clearer picture of how to stay financially healthy throughout your senior years. Take some time to do your research and make sure you’re choosing someone who’s qualified and will put your needs first.