Hiring Financial Help

Amidst the emotional turmoil of a divorce or the loss of a spouse, your world's gone haywire, and you're stressed to the max.

You may have a lump-sum payment from the splitting up of assets between you and your ex or from life insurance; or, on the flip side, you may find yourself borrowing to get by until your financial feet hit solid ground again.

You don't have to do it all alone. If your world is topsy-turvy, this is one time when it can pay to get some objective advice to help you sort things out, regardless of how money-savvy you may be.

That said, money advisers are a dime a dozen these days. There are all types of advisers (read about the different types). It's not always easy to know if someone is legitimate or just out to fleece you.

Recommendations from friends and family are always a good idea, but your Uncle Bill's broker isn't necessarily going to be the right adviser for you -- so you should do some sleuthing on your own.

  1. Take recommendations, but with caution.
  2. Interview more than one potential advisor.
  3. Always ask how an advisor is paid.
  4. Beware of high commissions.

Once you have selected two or three planners or brokers that you think may be right for you (see "finding a planner"), interview them. Ask what kinds of investments they might recommend to you considering your unique set of circumstances.

Ask how they get paid. It might seem rude, but do it anyway. It can save you a lot of money. Anything higher than a 5 percent commission should set off the alarms.

The Interview

Here are some key questions to ask a potential adviser:

  • How long have you been a planner (or broker)?
  • What are your qualifications?
  • What percentage of your clients are women?
  • What percentage are divorced or widowed?
  • How are you paid?
  • Are you registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission?
  • Can you give me three references?
  • What was your worst investment this year?
  • What was your best investment this year?
  • What can I expect from you in the way of services?

Also see: How to Find a Financial Planner

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