If you are looking for a financial planner, there are some things you have to know even before you have your initial review session. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should get you pointed in the right direction and help you figure out the preliminary data that will help you get the most help for growing your money as efficiently as possible.
1. Know what the different licenses mean. There are many different designations that a financial professional can earn, and not all of them mean the same things or mark the same skill sets. The Certified Personal Financial (CFP) is one of the most comprehensive licenses. These professionals have taken many hours of classes and are required to take refresher courses every once in a while. This isn't the only designation that allows someone to recommend and sell financial products, but it does cover a huge number of different possibilities and will help you to cover as many possibilities as you can.
2. Check for affiliations. Some professionals work with a very narrow range of financial products because of who they work for. Sometimes, these advisors are not able to move outside of the range their employers set for them. This only hurts you since you are limited in your choices. Additionally, sometimes insurance agents are able to sell variable products and annuities. This can be convenient, but realize that licensed insurance agents might not have as specialized of a focus as a regular financial professional.
3. Look for a motive. In many instances, financial advisors make a bigger commission off of some sales than off of others. If you are questioning your planner all the time because you aren't sure if their recommendations are in your best interests or theirs, you will not have success with your money. You don't want to enter a relationship that you aren't confident within. This type of professional relationship is supposed to be mutually beneficial, don't forget that. Instead, look for professionals that earn a set percentage of the totally amount of money they preside over, not individual commissions.
4. Be familiar with the professional's code of ethics. Different planners will have different guidelines that they must adhere to. Basically, you need to realize that there will be a certain set of guidelines in place so in the rare event that your money is mismanaged you have some grounds to appeal upon. The vast majority of planners will be ethical, but you want to have a safety net if something unthinkable were to occur.
5. Look for versatility and a proven track record. Anyone that has been in the advising business for an extended period of time has a record of profits and losses. These are generally available to people that ask for them. Look for someone that consistently creates wealth, but also look at the background of the products they employ. You want a financial planner that can create a unique way to manage your money in a manner that best fits your individual needs.