Fee-Only Financial Planner

Last Updated Feb 5, 2010 11:29 AM EST

How can I find a good fee-only financial planner?

by Jane Bryant Quinn

You can find a good fee-only planner through one of the following Web sites:

  • National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, about 1,270 planners in all states. To see if there are any near you, go to its Web site and type in your zip code. When names pop up, click on their profiles, where they announce their specialties. Some look for clients of high net worth. Others say they serve "middle income client needs." If you don't see the "middle income" phrase, email local planners, explain the services you want, and ask if they offer advice by the hour or by the job. Some take hourly clients without advertising it. You can also get names of fee-only planners by mail. Call NAPFA at 800-366-2732.
  • Garrett Planning Network, a group of about 300 planners in 41 states. They work on an hourly basis, with no minimum required. Fees range widely — at this writing, the majority charge $180 to $210 an hour. Middle-class clients are their specialty.
  • Alliance of Cambridge Advisors, a group of about 145 planners in 33 states, also specializing in middle-class clients. They usually charge annual retainers covering all their services, although some of them might give you a onetime financial tune-up for a fee.
  • Personal Financial Planning Center the site for certified public accountants who are personal financial specialists. Enter your zip code to get the names of local planners. Click on their names to see if they charge only fees. A few of these planners sell products on commission, so ask about it.
  • Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. Click on "Search for a Certified Financial Planner" to find CFPs in your area. Some will be "fee based" or "fee offset," others are "fee only." Go to their Web sites to find the true, fee-only planners.
  • Financial Planning Association. The majority of these planners charge commissions, but the group includes some fee-only planners too. Go to Planner-Search, search for local names, and inspect their listings. Those who advertise as "fee based" or "fee offset" charge commissions. You want the planners who are "fee only."
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Excerpted from Making the Most of Your Money Now by Jane Bryant Quinn

Copyright 1991, 1997, 2009, by Berrybrook Publishing, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc

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