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Financial Advisors For Seniors

Reviewed by: MySeniorCare Staff
Last Updated: 5/27/2010 4:05:06 PM

It's an unfortunate fact but seniors seem to be a target for those conducting money scams. For this reason, it's vital that family members help their senior loved one find the right person to handle the finances they worked so hard during their lifetime to build up.

A financial advisor is the person the senior will trust to help them get through their retirement years in comfort and with as little worry as possible, so it's critical that this person is reliable and trustworthy. There are several pieces of information seniors need to have before entrusting their life savings to another person.

Gather a List of Names

Going to friends and family who have advisors they rave about is the first place to start. Gathering names from trusted sources is the best way to know that the person is both good at what they do and can be trusted.

Personally Interview Each Choice

Even though the advisor's name came from a trusted source the person needs to be interviewed to make sure the services they offer are a match for a senior's needs. It's a wise decision for seniors to take a loved one with them to the interviews to be sure everything is covered and to help reduce any confusion.

Find Out Who They'll Deal With

One thing to be sure of is that the person in the interview is the person who will be handling the loved one's account. If the advisor has assistants, it's essential to meet any and all people who will be handling the file and who will be handling what sections (eg: Funds, investments, moving money, etc.) If too many people handle the file, it may be a good idea to choose another advisor.

Lay It Out On The Table

There are different professionals with different areas of expertise who work as financial advisors/planners. For example, such experts can be certified public accountants, stockbrokers or insurance salespeople, to name a few.

You'll want to ask what the person's professional background is, including professional accreditation and experience. It's a good idea to find out if the person has worked when the market has been both good and bad and to see how they handled things during such times. Knowing all of this will give the senior an idea of how much the advisor's word can be trusted. A final background check is to make sure the person doesn't have any complaints against them.

Be sure to contact the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards hotline at 800-487-1497 or check their background at the National Association of Securities Dealers 800-289-9999. Something else to watch for is if the advisor has some sort of elder care certification. This means the person has special training in dealing with the financial concerns of the elderly.

Good Communication

A good fit for a financial advisor and a senior is the ability for both sides to communicate. The financial advisor must be experienced with such issues as estate planning, asset management and end-of-life care but she must also be patient. Seniors aren't always comfortable with sharing their financial standing with a stranger and may not know how to project their long-term needs nor want to discuss what will happen once they are ill or dying.

The best fit is for the advisor to be empathetic, have good listening skills and be in tune with the senior's needs.

Payment & Fees

It's essential to understand both how the advisor charges for their services and what fees are involved for what they do. Some are paid on commission, others charge an hourly fee or flat rate, others earn their salary from their company and others work in terms of a combination of fees and commissions.

You should be sure to understand the fine print in the contract and ask any questions about fees and payments they aren't sure of before signing the advisor on.

Get References

As a final step, you should ask whether he'd be able to speak with some of the advisor's current or past clients. Even though the advisor's name came from an initially reliable source, it's important to find out how other people felt about the advisor's services. And it's a good idea to talk to people who worked with the individual during great and poor economic times.

It can be a touchy situation finding a financial advisor—it's never comfortable to discuss personal finances with a stranger. But following the above steps can put a senior on the right path to choosing the best-suited person to ease them through their Golden Years!

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