Before You Pay for Financial Advice, Read This Guide

All of this means that the onus remains on savers to ensure the professional they choose is the right one.

Here are several questions to ask yourself when considering paying for financial advice.

What kind of adviser should I work with?

If you’re thinking about hiring a financial planner, read this primer first.

You’ll want to hire the type of financial adviser who promises to act as a fiduciary all of the time, with all of your money, which is a fancy way of saying that person must be loyal to you first. In fact, you should ask your financial planner to sign a fiduciary pledge, a promise not to profit at your expense. We’ve written a version of the pledge that you can use the next time you’re shopping for an adviser. Find it here.

After your financial planner has signed the pledge, make sure to ask these 21 questions.

Investment advisers, who generally must register with the S.E.C. or a state securities regulator, must work in their clients’ best interest, regardless of what accounts they are working with.

But being a “registered investment adviser” alone doesn’t qualify a professional to answer your most challenging money questions. You also need to check that person’s educational background and training. Certified financial planners, for example, must satisfy some of the more rigorous curriculum and experience requirements. Chartered financial consultants undergo something similar.

Brokers, who may call themselves advisers, don’t necessarily carry any of these credentials. Instead, they may simply pass licensing exams that permit them to sell certain investments. Outside of your retirement money, they are required only to recommend products that are “suitable,” which isn’t necessarily the best or most cost-effective. And why should you settle for less?

How much advice do I need?

If you want to get started saving — or make sure you’re on track to meet certain goals — you may want to pay a…

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