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- Some financial decisions call for reinforcement; others, you can probably handle on your own — at least for now.
- You should consider hiring a financial advisor if you need specific advice or you’re too overwhelmed or confused by your money to plan for retirement or invest in the stock market.
- You probably don’t need a financial advisor if you want to know where to save money or invest a few thousand dollars.
- If you decide to seek professional advice, make sure you hire a fee-only financial planner or investment advisor — they act as fiduciaries, which requires them to put their client’s interests first.
- Robo-advisors like Wealthfront, Betterment, and Ellevest offer a cheaper alternative for investing advice and management.
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Money can be complex and intimidating, no matter how much or how little you have.
If you’ve considered seeking professional financial help but don’t know where to start, first identify exactly what it is you want to accomplish. Do you want to start investing or invest more money? Do you want to know how much you need to save to retire at 65? Do you need advice for paying off debt? Are you wondering how much life insurance you need?
The truth is that some financial decisions call for reinforcement; others, you can probably handle on your own — at least for now.
Financial advisor is a catch-all term that usually includes financial planners and investment advisors. It’s imperative to look for financial advisors who follow the fiduciary rule, meaning they operate in their clients’ best interest, and are fee-only. This means client fees are their only compensation and they don’t earn commission when you invest in certain funds or buy financial products.
A good certified financial planner can help organize your overall financial picture, including setting up a retirement saving and investing strategy; planning for big expenses, like buying a house or having kids; everyday budgeting and spending; plus tax and estate planning.
Considering a financial advisor? SmartAsset’s free tool can help you find a licensed professional near you »
You may also consider hiring a financial planner if you’re too overwhelmed or confused by your money to make big financial decisions, including how to balance multiple financial goals, manage a business, get out of crushing debt, or establish a retirement savings plan. If the alternative to meeting with a financial planner is decision paralysis, you’re better off seeking outside advice.
Investment advisors typically focus on the nuances of your investment strategy, such as what stocks or funds to buy in and out of your retirement accounts and how to minimize taxes. They can also manage your investments, but usually charge a fee of 0.5% to 2% of the portfolio.
You don’t have to be a sophisticated investor with millions in the market to have an investment advisor, but you probably don’t need one if you just want to know how to invest a few thousand dollars or which funds to choose in your retirement accounts.
A robo-advisor is often a cheaper alternative, and some even provide access to human investment advisors or financial planners for an extra fee.
Robo-advisors like Wealthfront, Betterment, and Ellevest set up and automatically rebalance an investment portfolio for you based on your goals and risk tolerance, and the annual management fee is just 0.25% of your account balance. Robo-advisors can be a valuable tool for the average person with a long-term outlook who truly wants to "set and forget" their investments.
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