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Dr. Don Taylor, CFA, Bankrate.com advice columnistFinding an independent financial planner

Dear Dr. Don,
I am a retired teacher with money that is tax sheltered with an investment firm. I would like advice on how to select a certified financial planner who is not associated with any particular financial organization. What do I need to do to find a reputable certified financial planner, and how much might it cost for her advice?
-- Jean Joinder

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Dear Jean,
I understand your concerns. You're looking for someone that's squarely in your corner in developing a financial plan and evaluating the changes that need to take place in your personal finances to better meet your financial goals.

Finding a planner that is completely unaffiliated with financial service providers is difficult because a financial planner needs to work with financial service providers to help clients implement financial plans.

Members of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, or NAPFA, are fee-only financial planners and are compensated solely by their clients. An investment adviser who is registered with NAPFA guarantees the complete disclosure of all fees before he is engaged as your financial planner. You can learn more about the association and find a NAPFA-registered adviser in your area by visiting the NAPFA Web site.

Although I certainly won't discourage you from seeking out a CFP certificant as your financial adviser, planning professionals with other professional designations may also be able to meet your need for independent advice.

To ask a question of Dr. Don, go to the "Ask the Experts" page, and select one of these topics: "financing a home", "saving & investing" or "money".

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: May 12, 2005
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