Finding a Financial Planner

COLUMBUS, Ga (WTVM) - It can make you or literally break you, finding someone to provide you with sound financial advice.

So experts says there are several steps consumers should take when searching for a financial planner.

First, consider why you need help.   For example, are you hoping to build wealth from the ground up, or maybe you've come in to a lump some of money.

Either way, there are several designations to look for behind someone's name,  like Certified Financial Planner.

"That is a great credential for someone to have. It would indicate that they have both the technical knowledge as well as the experience to handle your money," says Dr. Norman Godwin, Certified Public Accountant and Professor and Director of the School of Accountancy at Auburn University.

There's also what's called a Personal Financial Specialist.

"This is a specialization that is granted to CPAs who are members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, so it's a CPA that's said hey, I'd like to do more in financial planning and they have sought out this particular designation," explains Godwin.

Then, there are what people traditionally think of as brokers or financial advisors.

"You need to find out whether this person is compensated on a fee basis or a commission basis, that's very important."

Godwin also says no matter who you choose, get a thorough check of their history.

Ask for their Form ADV, it's filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, plus any state regulatory agency and can provide valuable information.

"Their fees, their investment strategies, their education, but most importantly, from a background check standpoint, it gives an idea of disciplinary action over the last ten years against this particular person," adds Godwin.

And of course there's always good old worth of mouth, talking to the people you trust, about who to trust with your money.