How to choose a financial advisor

Your style and your needs should drive your decision in choosing a financial advisor. Follow these steps to help find the one who's a good fit for you.

Match with Financial Advisors
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A financial advisor works with you to develop a strategy to help you reach your financial goals. Whether you are thinking about retirement, saving for your family’s future or starting a business, a financial advisor can provide the knowledge and insights you need to help guide how you fund your specific financial objectives. It’s important to do research and find the right financial advisor who understands your needs and partners with you to help realize the possibilities of your financial future.

Services a financial advisor provides

A financial advisor offers insight and knowledge with a long-term and personal approach to investing. Everyone has a unique financial vision, so your financial advisor will work with you to determine investment options that are right for your customized financial strategy.

Your financial advisor is your trusted partner to help you:

  • Create a tailored financial strategy for your goals
  • Recognize your comfort level with risk
  • Identify quality, diversified investment products
  • Feel confident and informed about your financial future
  • Navigate changes and stay focused

Three Types of financial advisors

Financial advisors are generally grouped into the following categories based on how they offer and administer their services:

  • "Robo-Advisors" – Some financial services are provided entirely online, sometimes referred to as robo-investing. In this case, you don't meet with an in-person advisor. Instead, you get all your advice online. After you input your information, computer algorithms give you feedback and answer your questions. This type of service is less personalized, and therefore less expensive. However, there may be account minimums or additional fees for various activities. 
  • Online Financial Planners – This option provides similar services as robo-advisors, but you’ll also have access to a professional advisor. Keep in mind that the advisor may not always be the same person, so it can be difficult to build a relationship and have someone who truly understands you and your goals.
  • Traditional Financial Advisors – Working with a financial advisor provides you with the opportunity for a lasting relationship and a partner to help you stay on track toward long-term goals. A dedicated financial advisor should take the time to get to know you, including who and what matters most to you. With this deep, consistent knowledge and understanding, you can make the right decisions together as a team.

The benefits of using a traditional financial advisor

Financial advisors are dedicated to creating a stable and sound financial strategy for you and your family. Using insights from our investment strategists when there are fluctuations in the stock market, they can help you navigate changes that happen in your life and with your investments. A financial advisor can provide you information and guidance for making investment decisions, strategies to help avoid unnecessary taxes and help to keep you on track even when you’re faced with the unexpected.

 A client discusses her plan and strategy with a potential financial advisor.

How to choose the financial advisor right for you

You can start looking for a financial advisor by asking family, friends and colleagues for recommendations and referrals. Online research is another way to find out about financial firms and their employees. You may even find ratings or reviews posted by other clients with details about their experiences.

1. Decide which services you need

If you are considering working with a financial advisor, think about the long-term financial future you want to build. Financial advisors work with you to create a strategy and help you manage your finances through every stage of your life. Here are some services that you can benefit from by having the guidance of a financial advisor:

2. Check backgrounds

When you are ready to compare a few of your options, check each financial advisor’s Client Relationship Summary, advisory brochure(s) and brochure supplements, which are parts of the Form ADV. Form ADV is a standard form that all investment advisors must complete to register with federal and state regulators.

  • The Client Relationship Summary (or Form CRS) discusses the types of services the advisor offers, the fees and costs associated with those services, conflicts of interest, key questions to ask the advisor, and references to more detailed information. 
  • The advisory brochure discusses a firm’s advisory programs, including its business practices, fees, potential conflicts of interest and disciplinary history. A firm may have a different brochure for each advisory program it offers. 
  • The brochure supplement is like a resume for the financial advisor and other individuals who would provide advisory services to your account. Each brochure supplement provides information about that individual’s educational background, business experience and disciplinary history.

You can search financial advisors and financial firms online to view each part of their Form ADV in specific detail. Another online tool, sponsored by FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, allows you to search individuals and firms for their certifications and registrations, as well as information about any complaints or arbitrations.

3. Check on credentials

As you start getting in touch with possible financial advisors, ask for their credentials. Make sure they are backed with the proper training experience. Look for financial advisors with Series 7 and Series 66 securities registrations. 

Many financial advisors have additional credentials, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Accredited Asset Management Specialist (AAMS), Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and state insurance licenses. 

4. Research financial advisor fees

Financial advisors have a variety of fee structures. They can be commission-based, fee-based, fee-only or a combination of these. It’s important to understand how your financial advisor is compensated, and they should be open and transparent with that information. Your financial advisor will work with you to decide the right financial solutions that can help you reach your goals. Be sure to understand the costs associated with each financial option and always ask questions. Open communication is key to having a successful long-term financial relationship.

5. Create a list of questions to ask

Think about what is important for your financial future and what you need to feel comfortable and confident in your choice for a financial advisor. Here are some topics you should discuss before planning to work with a financial advisor: 

  • A complete list of their services and if they are full-service or offer limited services
  • Information about how they work with clients
  • A complete list of investment products they offer
  • Details about their hours, locations, customer service contacts, websites and social media platforms
  • Tools and technology you may employ, including online access and savings calculators
  • Financial education resources, such as up-to-date market information and investment

You may also want to get a deeper understanding about a potential financial advisor and their approach to working with clients. Use these 10 questions to guide a conversation as you interview possible financial advisor candidates.

6. Set up a first meeting with the financial advisor

Once you have decided on a financial advisor, try to prepare for your initial meeting. You may be asked to provide a list of your current investments, assets, income, expenses and other financial items. Share as much information as you can to help your financial advisor understand your current situation. That will become the starting point for building your financial future together. Bring a list of questions, as well as your long-term objectives, hopes and dreams. Your financial advisor is ready to listen, learn about what’s most important to you and discuss your best options.

How to decide if a financial advisor is a good fit

You may be unsure if you need a financial advisor. We have a free report to help you determine if you would benefit from working with a financial advisor.

How to get started with a financial advisor

We can connect you directly to an Edward Jones financial advisor. Answer a brief quiz about your financial goals and preferences to be instantly matched with one of our financial advisors.

Building a financial future can seem overwhelming. Edward Jones is here to listen to you and understand your financial goals. Together, we can create a long-term financial strategy designed for you.

Find an Edward Jones Financial Advisor to work for you.