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Teresa Ghilarducci

How to Find a Financial Adviser You Can Trust

Don’t ask for recommendations from family and friends.

Time to get organized.

Time to get organized.

Photographer: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

January and February are traditionally sober months of financial renewal. One common resolution is finding a financial adviser. Most Internet searches on the subject produce nothing but spam and bad advice: “Talk to your friends,” “do your homework,” “click here.” None of this advice tells you how to save money, protect yourself, or what your homework is.

First, do not ask friends and family. Most advisers are conflicted and your family and friends probably have one of those. Firms and people selling products typically call themselves financial advisers and retirement planners; brokers and insurers attempt to create the expectation that they are providing fiduciary investment advice rather than selling investment funds that benefit them.