10 questions to ask a financial planner

If you're looking for a financial planner, here are 10 questions to consider asking:

1. What is your experience? How many years, areas of expertise, etc.

2. What are your qualifications? Ask for professional designations, such as CPA, CFP, etc., and check their validity.

3. What services are covered? Some planners focus on specialty areas, like investing, retirement or tax strategies. Be sure what you need is offered.

4. What's the approach to financial planning? Ask about typical clients and scenarios. Be sure the planner's investing strategy isn't too conservative or aggressive for your needs.

5. Who will work on my account? Some planners work directly with clients; others use a team of support staff to help out. If the planner uses outsiders (tax attorneys, insurance agents, etc.), ask for a list of names and check their credentials.

6. How will I be billed for services? Is the planner paid by salary, commissions or fees? Some might charge a combination of fees and commissions; others might charge a percentage of your investable assets or income.

7. What's the typical charge? Ask for an estimate of what you'll pay, including hourly rates, flat fees and commissions on financial products sold to you.

8. Who else benefits from the advice? Ask about business relationships that might pose a conflict of interest. For instance, planners who sell insurance, securities or mutual funds might not put your financial interests first.

9. Have you ever been professionally disciplined? Check the disciplinary history of financial planners at the Certified Financial Planners Board or call (800) 487-1497.

For brokers/brokerage firms, use "BrokerCheck" at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority website ( www.finra.org ) or call (800) 289-9999.

10. Can I get it in writing? Ask for a written description of the financial services provided. Keep a copy in your files.

(Contact Claudia Buck at cbuck@sacbee.com. For more stories visit scrippsnews.com)

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