Know Your Financial Adviser: New Guide From CFPB

Like planning for retirement, choosing a financial adviser can be much more challenging than it sounds—especially for senior needs. Last week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released “Know your financial adviser,” a guide to help you ask the right questions when shopping for an adviser. Did you know that titles like “veteran’s adviser,” “retirement adviser,” “senior specialist,” “benefits coordinator” or even “financial planner” don’t always mean the professionals are qualified to help you manage your money? Some titles require in-depth training, while others are easily picked up over a weekend.

For some military retirees, the decision is complicated even further by the need to find an adviser who understands the complexity of their retiree pay, veteran’s benefits, or disability benefits. This adviser should also understand the full financial impact of other benefits like TRICARE, commissary privileges, survivor benefit plans, and veteran’s service organization membership benefits.

Here are four things to think about when evaluating a financial adviser’s title or credentials:

How much training is required? Senior financial planning is a complex field which includes topics like estate planning, income tax laws, and investments. Some titles therefore require college-level coursework and passing tough exams, which can take many months or even years to complete.

Is your adviser qualified through a training program that holds its members to strict ethical standards? You should be able to file a complaint easily with the organization that issued your adviser’s financial title, as they may discipline or ban members who don’t follow the rules.

Is your adviser’s financial title accredited? Accredited programs have taken important steps to ensure the quality of their training.

Does the adviser have an extensive background working with a specialized group like military retirees? Just because someone calls themselves a veteran’s adviser doesn’t mean they know anything about military retiree pay systems, veteran benefits, or even the military, for that matter.

In addition to learning how to find a qualified financial adviser, you can also protect yourself by learning how to spot signs of potential financial fraud by phony advisers looking to exploit you.  You can download a copy of the CFPB’s previously released Money Smart for Older Adults – Prevent Financial Exploitation guide to help you spot the warning signs.

Most financial advisers have worked hard to earn the knowledge and skills required to help you. But credentials and promises alone don’t guarantee expertise or the quality of someone’s training. It’s up to you to look closely at the training, background, and quality of service when picking someone who promises to help you protect and grow your well-earned nest egg.

Tip of the Day

  • Written by Guest Blogger | March 26, 2014

    Need #savings tips? Check out these 54 savings tips & boost the amount of #money you can #save http://ow.ly/sfsPP

Saver Stories View all »

Making Saving Automatic Leads to Personal Success

Written by Lila Quintiliani | May 27, 2020

Ryan’s savings journey started when he was an active duty airman. Frequent deployments and temporary duty assignments gave him the opportunity to save. By the time he transitioned out of active duty, he had built up a healthy rainy-day fund and had started to aggressively save for retirement.

Read more...

When You Start Small, Saving is Easy

Written by Lila Quintiliani | August 12, 2019

When Attiyya first got married, she and her Marine husband had just graduated from college and were focused on paying off student loan debt. They had both attended private schools and had sizeable loans. Then three months after the wedding, the couple found out they were pregnant with their first child.

The first year of their marriage, says Attiyya, was a balancing act between paying down debt and saving for the future.

Read more...

Setting a Goal Leads to Success

Written by Super User | May 24, 2019

Growing up, Marisa’s dad had always talked about saving first, but she said she didn’t really internalize it until much later. “I was drifting along with no plan, carrying a little bit of revolving debt, saving some money here and there, but without a real plan for it.”

Read more...