A product salesperson (insurance and securities) who is compensated entirely by the commissions on purchases, or a qualified financial advisor who may charge a fee for the time required to prepare any analysis and develop a report for your consideration.

There is certainly nothing wrong with a salesperson receiving commission on purchases. That is how people are generally compensated in the financial product area. After all, if you purchase a Certificate of Deposit at a local bank, you don’t for a minute believe that the tellers and officers are working for free. Their compensation is derived from the difference (you could call it a commission) between what the bank earns on its investments and what is credited to your account.

However, working with a financial advisor before making a purchase is more likely to leave you feeling informed and confident about a product without the pressure to buy, simply for the commission.

A qualified financial advisor can separate the advice stage from the actual purchase. What are the qualifications that you should look for in such a person? How do you go about finding and selecting a person who can help chart your path through the financial dilemmas?

The person you select should have:

  • Sufficient experience guiding personal financial affairs
  • Professional education, both initial and ongoing
  • Standing in recognized financial associations
  • Adherence to the developed professional standards
  • A commitment to client service and objectives
  • The capacity to help you fulfill your current and future needs
  • Sufficient staff, facilities and computer equipment
  • Ability to provide comprehensive analysis and ongoing services
  • An ethical posture
  • An ability to communicate effectively

Of all the requirements listed above, perhaps the most important is the capacity to communicate with you, to clarify your attitudes and to help you understand all the ramifications of the alternatives.