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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Who You Gonna Call? Financial Professionals, That's Who!

You have bills to pay, your savings for a down payment on a home are miniscule, and retirement is a blurry dream at the moment. How can you balance all of these financial goals and make them a reality?

Managing money is not an innate skill and often it makes sense to turn to expert help. Whether you're

  • looking for help with your taxes,
  • choosing investments for your retirement savings,
  • managing multiple saving and investing goals,
  • establishing a retirement and estate plan,

financial professionals can help you explore alternatives and strategies to best manage your finances.

However, choosing a financial professional is a scary proposition for many people. Who do you want to trust with your money and your future dreams? You can make an informed decision with a little time and effort. Think about what qualities in a financial professional are important to you. What experience and education does the financial professional need to have? Ideally, the financial professional's expertise and experience will relate to what you want to know. For example, if you are 24 years old and are looking for investment advice, then you may not want to choose someone who specializes in estate planning for 80 year olds.

Take the time to interview two or three financial professionals to find one that is a good match for you. Ask specific questions such as how much and what type of continuing education does the person you're interviewing engage in on a regular basis? The financial world, and related laws and products, change at a rapid pace; continuing education is essential. How is the financial professional paid? Everyone needs income; is the financial professional's income fee-based or commission-based? For more insight into how to evaluate a financial professional, read the Consumer Guide to Choosing a Financial Professional.

Even if someone is the perfect match for your Uncle Fred, it doesn't mean that they are the right financial professional for you. Be sure you're comfortable asking questions and talking to the financial professional. And, that they can explain things in a way that makes sense to you! The free, downloadable Interview Guide has other suggestions for questions to ask.

One last, but important, step: once you narrowed your choices, check the financial professional's background and references. In Illinois, check a person's licenses and disciplinary records by calling the Illinois Securities Department, toll-free 1-800-628-7937.

We all accept the time it takes to shop around for a new car. Do yourself a favor and take time to shop and compare when you choose a financial professional.

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