Retirement planning is complex enough to do. There is no sense in doing with someone incompetent just because they are closet to your door and the most convenient. So what are some ways to make sure you are using the right person to plan out your retirement years with?
Three words: USE THE INTERNET. Where else can so much information on people be found than right on your desktop. Google their name, or their company and see what you can find. Not finding anything is not always a bad thing. Some folks are more old fashioned when it comes to marketing their businesses and may not have a website or any social media links. The information you find can be astonishing. I would urge you to visit their website and browse through it. Look at the videos if they have any and listen or read the messages they provide. Are they fee based agents, or insurance agents? Do they talk a lot about investing for gains or safety? If you are looking for estate planning, would it be wise to deal with someone who mainly sells medicaid? Look for client testimonials on their site as well.
Check out the BBB ( Better Business Bureau). See what their rating is. A, or B, or worse. I feel stronger about agents with a rating than with those I cannot find. It tells me they have registered their business because they know that they provide a good , solid service to their members. Again, it may not be a bad thing if they are not registered, but you would certainly feel better seeing it.
Ask a friend for a referral. Finding someone that has worked with a friend you trust, is probably going to be the best way to find an advisor to work with. You will have a personal knowledge of what it was like working with that advisor, what they like, and don’t like about them, and were they comfortable enough to allow them to help plan for retirement. A lot of agents do a client appreciation night, go along to one of these with your friend and meet the agent, you might get a nice glass of wine out of it too, and get a feel for them in person.
Once you choose an agent to work with. Make sure that your desires and requirement are completely understood. If you feel like they are trying to lead you away from those goals, or are not clear in what they are trying to do, then it may be best to take a breather and look around. Agents who push to one particular type product over and over, typically do so for a reason. They may only be licensed to work with that one, or get incentives for performance. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but make sure it’s because it is the best possible product for your situation.
Once you’ve found someone you like and trust. By all means, don’t be shy about referring them to someone you know. Try and remember what it was like for you when you were looking. The stress of not having an agent you are confident and secure with is not worth it. If you can help out someone else, then by all means, please do so.