Dallas Financial Advisors

In an ideal world, everyone would have a financial planner. Too many of us think financial planning is only for the wealthy or that we can handle it ourselves, but our financial lives get increasingly complex the longer we live. The Dallas area is home to dozens of qualified financial planners who can help you sort out complicated issues and plan now for the years ahead.

Good financial planners don’t just tell you where to invest. They can review your insurance coverage to make sure you aren’t exposed to needless risk, help you find long-term care coverage, coordinate with attorneys for estate planning, assist with long-term tax planning, and encourage you to keep your savings and budget plans on track.

When should you start working with a financial advisor?

If you’ve never worked with a financial planner, it’s a good idea to start as soon as you find someone qualified and trustworthy. If you already have a financial planner, your yearly in-person meeting is a good time to review your holdings, talk about any recent changes (like a marriage, divorce, or move to a new home) and update your plans.

Where can you find advisors?

To avoid the risk of scams, the only financial advisors you should consider are the ones you contact first, rather than those who reach out to you unsolicited.

Some helpful resources are:

The Better Business Bureau of Dallas and Northeast Texas list of BBB-accredited financial planning consultants.

D Magazine’s searchable annual “Best Financial Planners” list of peer-elected Certified Financial Planners (CFP) in Dallas and other Metroplex cities.

The CFP Board of Standards searchable database, which lets you search by location, specialty (options include elder care, estate planning, healthcare planning, and long-term care), compensation style, and more.

Other sources for recommendations can include your elder law attorney and friends, neighbors and relatives who seem to have their financial act together.

How should you choose an advisor?

The most important steps in selecting a planner are to check their credentials, understand how they get paid, and meet them in person.

You can enter the planner’s name and location into the CFP Board’s certification check to see if their certification is current, whether they’ve been disciplined, and whether they have filed for bankruptcy in the last decade.

It’s also a good idea to ask if the planner is a fiduciary. By law, fiduciaries must put clients’ best interests first, rather than just offering a range of suitable options.

CFPs are paid for their services in one of 3 ways:

The fee-based model is preferred for investment management, because the planner gets a yearly percentage (usually 1%) of your holdings. That means their pay is tied to your investments’ performance.

Commissions on investment vehicles may present more opportunities for conflict of interest, because the planner is paid by financial product companies when he or she sells them to you. (Most insurance products are only offered on commission.)

The fee and commission model is common for planners who both manage investments and offer insurance products, with fee-based investment management and commissions on policies.

Some planners offer by-the-hour advice, which may be a good choice for people with small nest eggs.

Finally, take a short meeting with each planner you’re considering to see how you like them. Financial planning is anything but one-size-fits-all, so look for a good listener. Take some time to think it over before you decide. Then work with your planner to shape up your financial future.

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