How to pick a financial adviser

Find a specialist

You might want someone to manage your complete financial picture, but there’s probably one area you’re most concerned with that has prompted you to seek professional advice.

"Many good financial advisers have knowledge and experience in helping clients with a variety of personal finance issues," says Joyce E. Morningstar, a senior wealth manager in Scottsdale, Ariz. "However, the best advisers tend to prefer working with a particular type of client."

Whether you need the most help with retirement planning, maximizing your child’s college fund, investing your extra cash, combining your finances in a new marriage or disentangling your joint accounts after a divorce, you should choose a professional who specializes in this area.

"To maximize the value of your financial adviser, ask questions to confirm the adviser has experience working with someone like you in the areas where you need the most help," she says. "Otherwise, you may be disappointed in hiring a great financial expert for the wrong job."