Choosing a Financial Advisor in Your 30s and 40s

Okay – you’ve never had a financial advisor before.  There wasn’t much reason to.  In your twenties you may have worked from paycheck to paycheck, meeting the bills and having a little fun with your family; there wasn’t much extra money to wonder about.  But things are a little different now.

You’ve both been successful in your careers, and despite the cost of raising the kids and setting aside college funds, you find there’s still some money left over--to invest.  And for the first time, you’re looking down the road to retirement.

Your friends talk over dinner about financial planning, investment planning and estate planning.  Protecting your retirement.  All pretty new stuff to you, having given little thought to when you might retire, how much you’ll need , and how to help preserve a retirement plan so you don’t lose it or run out of money too quickly when you do retire.

Those things have now become very real, very important considerations for you.  And you know you need some help--some advice.  But how do you find a financial advisor, and how do you go about choosing the right one for your family?

There is some good news here.  Even though the current economy is in terrible shape, and there is widespread uncertainty and concern about the future, investment opportunities still exist.  It is crucial to work with solid, experienced advisors and make sound investments.  How do you get started?

Talk to your friends who already working with a financial advisor.  Gather some names and then interview at least three.  What to ask?  Here are the basics:

• How long have you been in the business? • How many families are you working with? • How much money do you control on behalf of your clients? • What type of investments do you offer? • What can you do to help me plan for my retirement? • Will my money be safe?

It may be wise to choose an advisor who has been in the business for a long while.  It isn’t necessary to pick an advisor your own age or younger so that you can age together; advisors just starting out may not have the wealth of knowledge and experience of those who have been in the business for a long while.  As in most fields, it can take time to become good at what you do.

Your family doctor is likely not fresh out of school.  You chose a doctor with a wide range of practice and many years of experience.  You aren’t worried about what happens when he or she retires, because you know that doctors are always mentoring the professionals who will replace them.  In addition, your health records are well documented and will be available to your next doctor.

The same is true regarding the relationship with your financial advisor.  Having been on a solid financial path toward retirement, you’ll hopefully find that the change to your next advisor will be smooth and worry free.  The time is now to get started on a plan that will guide you toward a financially independent retirement.  Choose your advisor wisely.  Maybe look for a little gray hair and a wrinkled brow.  In these tough times and with your money you want to work with someone who has the knowledge and experience to provide you and your family with sound financial advice.

You can read more from Dennis Holmstrom at