I stumbled across this article from Suze Orman today while looking for financial tips for the current economy: Suze Orman’s 10 Steps to a Worry-Free Financial Future and it got me thinking about the financial advice each of us chooses to heed. One big question most small business owners ask over and over is: who can I trust for accurate and helpful information about my finances so that I can achieve financial freedom and eventually retire comfortably?
My answer: no one-no one source that is. Instead, small business owners (and people, in general) need to heed advice from a variety of sources and apply that advice to their unique situations.
That being said, it’s important to have your favorite “top shelf” financial advisors to whom you know you can turn for very fair, very universally truthful advice. Suze Orman happens to be one of my go-to favorite financial experts for that. So how can you find a financial advisor or expert who’s right for you? Here are some tips:
Listen to financial advisors when they speak-but only with one ear
If you’re like many small business owners, chances are good that you’ve been approached by a wealth of financial advisors who promise to take your money and turn it into a viable retirement fund, earn a whopping 10 percent return per year, make your measly thousands become a whopping millions in just a few short decades. But how do you know if what these financial advisors are saying is true?
First, it’s important to listen to financial advisors when they talk to you, but only listen with one year. Keep the other ear open for the subtle sales pitch. See, many financial firms, such as Northwestern Mutual, term their agents “financial representatives,” but in a more stripped-down title for their job descriptions, they might otherwise be called “sales representatives.”
This is the type of financial advisor-or representative-who might be positioned by his or her company to appear to be an experienced financial guru, but in reality, this type of representative might not actually have a formal financial background or wealth of non-company-sponsored training. With this type of financial representative, be sure to listen to the nuts and bolts of what the individual says to you, but keep in mind that their foremost objective is not to grow your wealth; it’s to sell you a product from the company the financial representative represents.
Their financial products, however, might be important to your long-term financial success. Northwestern, for example, provides life insurance and disability insurance products for small business owners, which may be valuable to you.
Do your financial product research
Before buying a financial product from or suggested by a financial advisor-or representative-make sure that you do your own research. If you are planning to buy a financial product from a company, be sure to investigate the company’s background. If the company is publicly traded, check out its stats and information on its Yahoo! Finance section (this is a great resource for financial information about a public company.” Ask other small business owners in your industry about the financial advice they’ve received, including the financial products they’ve used. Read finance blogs-the more you read, the more opinions you’ll have to weight.
Check for certified financial planner certifications
Finally, if you decide that the best financial course for you and your money is to work with a single financial planner or financial planning team, consider choosing a financial planner who has achieved his or her Certified Financial Planner Certification. Certified Financial Planners have completed examinations to test their financial planning skills and must adhere to strict ethical standards in order to maintain their certifications. Therefore, chances are good that you can rely on a Certified Financial Planner to provide the level of professional financial planning advice you need.
Of course, remember that the best way to achieve financial stability and independence is to save your money and make calculated decisions about where you invest, if you invest at all. Be sure to do your research and only make financial decisions once you completely understand them and are comfortable with the possible outcomes.
Suze Orman’s 10 steps to a worry-free financial future