Look for a fiduciary. In short, this means the planner has pledged to act in a client’s best interests at all times. Investment professionals who aren’t fiduciaries are often held to a lesser standard, the so-called sustainability standard. That means that anything they sell you merely has to be suitable for you, not necessarily ideal or in your best interest. This point is critical, and should be a deal breaker if a prospective planner is not a fiduciary.

The advantages that employees can reap from a fiduciary advisor are mainly based on getting personal. The employees will have a full-time financial planner who personally knows them and their individual situations and has their best interests in mind when making recommendations. This personal level of service will likely lead to other benefits as well, as the advisor could assist employees in other areas such as budgeting, estate planning, or income taxes.


Many RIAs are fee-only advisors, meaning they can’t work off commission or sell a client any investment products that aren’t in the client's best interests. Financial planners don’t have to be RIAs to work under this business model. Fee-only financial planners generally make money via an hourly rate, an annual fixed retainer, or as a percentage of the investment assets they manage on behalf of their clients. They also have a fiduciary duty to their clients over any broker or dealer.
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