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Making the Right Decision: 3 Tips for Choosing a Financial Planner

By Joe Gross, CDFA®

The financial industry is filled with endless options when it comes to both how to manage your money and who should be the person doing it. In a previous article, we discussed the top 10 questions to ask when vetting different types of financial professionals. But once you’ve narrowed down the list of candidates, how can you be sure you’re choosing the right one for your specific situation?

There are some decisions that can be left to chance, like letting your spouse choose the restaurant or your child pick dessert. But other decisions, like who you work with as you map out your financial future, require much more careful consideration. 

To help you make the best choice possible, here are 3 criteria to consider when deciding which financial planner to work with.

Know Your Options

There are many types of financial advisors out there. In your initial vetting process, you have narrowed down your choices to one type of professional, or several different types, including but certainly not limited to:

  • Investment advisors
  • Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®)
  • Financial consultants
  • Broker-dealers
  • Portfolio and asset managers

Some gray areas exist among the services different types of advisors offer, but understanding the expectations of each type can help you make the best choice for you. 

For example, an investment advisor might specialize only in managing assets and investment advice. On the other hand, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, like many of the professionals on the JGP team, might offer comprehensive planning strategies to help you reach your goals in addition to providing asset management and investment advice.

An advisor’s title can’t tell you everything there is to know about their services, but it’s a good place to start. If you’re looking for goals-based financial advice, you may want to work with a CFPⓇ professional. If you’re looking for a more hands-off relationship with an advisor who manages assets directly, a portfolio manager might be a better option.

Choose Based on Specialty

Advisor specialties should be one of your most essential considerations, especially as you start to narrow down your options. Some advisors specialize broadly in retirement planning, while others specialize in narrow niches, such as retirement planning for physicians or portfolio management for real estate investors. 

Some advisors serve specific age ranges, others focus on specific professions, and others even specialize in helping families with children who have special needs. In all likelihood, there’s an advisor out there who specializes in serving your particular needs.

I work mainly with high-net-worth individuals going through some major life transitions. Whether that be a divorce, retirement, or widowhood, I focus on helping clients find financial clarity and confidence throughout life’s phases. 

In today’s virtual world, it’s less important that your advisor is located physically near you, and more important that their specialty aligns with your needs. Although being able to meet with your advisor face-to-face is nice, most work can be done through videoconferences, especially with features like screen-sharing and recording.

Vet Credentials and Designations

We included this point in our previous list, but it’s so important to keep it in mind as you make your ultimate decision about who to work with. If you’re between two candidates and one has a designation and the other doesn’t, take the time to fully understand how that could impact your working relationship. 

Credentials and licenses can change the nature and quality of the services provided as well as the legal rights you would have should anything go wrong. For instance, advisors who are registered with the SEC or FINRA could face steep fines, penalties, and suspensions if they are found to have violated the ethical guidelines of these agencies. 

The truth is that anyone can start a financial advising firm, and they don’t necessarily have to have any credentials to do so.  

As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® professional, I have the knowledge and experience to help people navigate the financial intricacies of divorce, including settlements, taxes, asset distribution, and the financial planning necessary to walk forward into a different future. The rest of the JGP team holds a variety of credentials, including the CFP® certification, which requires comprehensive education and experience. As a firm, we pursue education and credentials because of how dedicated we are to providing unparalleled client service.

Partner With a Planner You Trust

Sometimes making the final decision can be the most difficult. After you’ve done the initial interview and vetting process, you may find yourself overwhelmed with analysis paralysis. Whatever your financial, investment, or retirement planning concerns, JGP Wealth Management is here to help you on your journey. 

If you’d like to partner with a financial planner who understands your unique needs and inspires you to be more confident in your financial decisions, contact Joe today at 503-446-6450 or jgross@jgpwealth.com

About Joe

Joe Gross is first vice president and senior financial advisor at JGP Wealth Management, an independent, fee-based financial advisory firm in Portland, Oregon. With over 25 years of experience under his belt, Joe is passionate about putting his clients first and helping them stay focused on their financial goals, inspiring confidence in their future. As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® professional, he specializes in addressing the unique financial issues of divorce. Joe is known for his tenacity to keep clients on track toward their dreams and for his attention to detail, which is second to none! His clients know that nothing will slip through the cracks when working with Joe! 

Joe graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Outside of work, he enjoys being involved in the community and is actively involved with organizations close to his heart. Joe is a former president and current board member of the ALS Association of Oregon and Southwest Washington and a long-time member of The Multnomah Athletic Club. In his free time, he enjoys fly fishing, spending time with his family, and cheering on his alma mater, the University of Arizona. To learn more about Joe, connect with him on LinkedIn. You can also watch his latest webinar on How To Pick Up The Financial Pieces After Divorce.