I've talked to a few FA's and they all seem more intent on selling me products than giving me advice.

Case in point - one of them was pushing me to invest my cash savings in her bank's funds when I had about $10k in credit card debt that should have been paid off first.

So my question is - how do I go about finding a financial advisor that actually gives good advise instead of trying to make a buck off me?

4 Answers 4


Fred is correct ... MOST financial advisors (but not all) are paid either for managing your assets or for selling you financial products.

But success at anything, especially building wealth, is all about PROCESS, not products.

I applaud your desire to find a financial advisor to help you because this is not something that most people have the education, experience or capacity to do themselves (it is impossible to get the perspective you need to make the best choices).

Start with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional - they have an ethical duty to do what is in your best interests ahead of their own (the "fiduciary standard"). You might interview two or three. Work with the one who is transparent about how they are paid and whose process is focused on helping you achieve your goals ... not following any rule of thumb or standard boilerplate. Your goals are different. Your financial life is different.

Find someone who can help YOU follow YOUR agenda ... not their own.

  • 1
    You might also look at napfa.org (an organization of fee-only as opposed to on-commission planners)
    – Havoc P
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 1:29
  • 1
    Certified by whom?
    – Psychonaut
    Commented Jun 14, 2017 at 10:28

Related to this question: I came across a post at The Financial Planning Exchange* titled "The Top 10 Ways To Tell If You're Working With A Really Good Financial Planner." Here are a few tips I particularly liked:

(* site is no longer available)

4. Make sure the planner is going to work with you on a Fiduciary basis. This means that they are going to recommend only what is in your best interest. A planner who tries to sell you a product is generally a red flag that they aren't looking out for your best interests.
8. Interview the prospective planner that you are about to hire. Understand how they think, what their speciality is, and most importantly how they are going to get paid for their services. Be very very careful with a planner who is going to provide you with a free financial plan as that person more often than not has a motivation to sell you something.
10. Last but not least, go to a person who works hand in hand with financial planners like an accountant or estate planning attorney for a referral. Accountants and estate planning/tax attorneys know the difference between a good and bad planner. Chances are they are a client of the person they'll refer you to.

  • This site is no longer functioning. Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 17:55
  • @DJClayworth: Good to know; I removed the link, but the text I had copied is still informative. Commented Jan 13, 2011 at 18:30

I'd advise you to look for an advisor who is a NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor. If you visit the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) website (http://www.napfa.org) and understand why they are different, I think you'll agree that the NAPFA-Registered Financial Advisor is the highest standard of excellence you will find in a financial planner.


Usually, a financial advisor makes his money by selling financial investments. Thus, almost anyone you talk to is going to try to get you to be investment products, which is not what you need to be doing at this point.

You should be focusing on paying off all your debt first, before doing any investment. The interest you are paying on credit cards is most likely much more than the money you could get from any type of investment.

However, once you have your consumer debt paid off, I recommend talking to any friends, co-workers, or other professional advisors you have (such as attorneys or accountants). When you ask such people for the referrals, find out how much debt they have, how much they are investing. Pay closer attention to those with a higher net worth. Otherwise, you may be getting advice from someone fooled by the same sort of financial advisor you are trying to avoid.

  • 3
    Be careful with paying off ALL your debt first. Be sure to weigh the interest rate of the debt versus the potential gain of other investments. If you pay off a 3% interest rate debt and miss an investment worth 10%, you lost that 7%. Also, most debts are mortgages which are tax deductible.
    – Benjamin
    Commented Apr 13, 2010 at 2:55
  • 7
    Your analysis leaves out an important aspect: Risk. I'f I pay off a 6% loan, I have no risk whatsoever of having to pay more on that loan in the future. However, if I leave my money in the market earning 10%, there is some significant risk (as the economic recession has shown) that my investment could tank in value, I'd not longer be able to to pay my loan, and I'd not have the income I expected from the investment. Commented Apr 16, 2010 at 22:34

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