Financial Planning for Generation X & Y Women
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Expert Q&A Archive

Do financial advisors only work with people who have large amounts of cash?
I find that all financial advisers seem to only work with people who have large amounts of cash, and they do not return any calls. I am 36 yrs old and married.
Gary Silverman, CFP®:
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There is indeed a problem in the financial planning community where a lot of advisors and a lot of firms only deal with accounts over some number such as $100K or even $1 million; however, there are many advisors who, for an hourly fee, will sit down and discuss your investment options. Keep calling, and you should get some results. There are also several search sites out there. Some of note:

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards:
Financial Planning Association:
National Association of Personal Financial Advisors:
Virginia Clay CFA:
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When you hire a financial advisor, the advisor is looking to get paid. There are advisors that will work with smaller accounts if they know you are serious about saving, investing and accumulating. Larger, full-service firms, like Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley, for example, do not want their advisors to generally work with small accounts; however, your local bank may not be a good option either because many times the investment reps are Series 6 (not 7) licensed and generally have less training in the investment world.

Sometimes expensive mutual funds and annuities are offered by Series 6 representatives. Be careful about using independent advisors because they have a big incentive to sell the product most profitable to their business. There are many nuances. You will and should interview several.

To verify an advisor’s license types and how long they’ve been in place, go to You can see if the advisor has any complaints and verify how long he or she has been in the business. Interview more than one advisor before you choose. will give you some good tips on what to ask for when looking for a financial planner. I strongly advise to work with someone who is willing to help with planning as well as buying investments. Do not ask if they do planning; just ask what services they offer, and see if planning is part of their routine offering.

If you have not [done so], you should read a basic financial planning or investing book. Read it twice. This is a must do when you are trying to hire someone to help you with investments. Next try out several on-line asset allocation tools. You need to understand your own risk tolerance, among other things, before you invest. So you may have some things to teach yourself.

Finally, there is no need to hurry. Now, January 2009, is probably still the first half of our ongoing recession. Contrary to some broker commentary, you do not have to earn all of the stock market upside to do the right thing for yourself.