How to find a fee based financial advisor in a small town

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    My husband and I live in a small town in the upper midwest with the nearest large city a few hours drive away.

    As we are approaching retirement age, we’d really like to get some solid financial advice from a fee based advisor for long term retirement planning… however, there are none to be found in our area.

    I’m uncertain where to turn to for advice; it seems those I’ve looked into (who are commission based) are a bit too eager to “handle” our money for us (or perhaps in lieu of us).

    We cannot really turn to friends for advice in this area as most are equally confused.

    I’d really appreciate any advice.

    Stacy JohnsonStacy Johnson

    I wouldn’t worry too much about having to deal with a financial adviser in person. It’s always nice to sit across the desk from someone, of course, but it’s more important to get good advice than in-person advice. And I agree with your assessment of commission-based advice: Just say no.

    You can start your search for a fee-based advisor here:

    Also, check out and

    Good luck, Tinkerbella. Let me know how it works out!


    Thank you, Stacy, for the advice. Now the real search begins…

    I’ll update once things progress.

    Again, thank you!


    I’ve not yet had much success in locating a fee-based advisors (with a verifiable good reputations) who are willing to accept clientele remotely (i.e., other than face-to-face as discussed earlier).

    I did, in my searching around, come up with another possibility for which I would appreciate your input again.

    Universities like Pepperdine and Boston offer certified financial planner certificate programs online. The cost obviously is going to be a bit more to attend, but I would gain something in the process which is sorely lacking in our household… a real education about financial planning (without me having to ferret out what areas I need to focus on).

    What is your truthful opinion about pursuing this option versus continuing my search for a reputable fee-based advisor?

    Stacy JohnsonStacy Johnson

    Quite simply, I think that’s one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard. The absolute best person to manage your money is you. Always has been, always will be.

    Wall Street spends hundreds of millions in advertising every year with the sole purpose of convincing you that money management is over your head. They even have commercials comparing managing your own money to operating on yourself.

    This is THE BIG LIE.

    Managing money and understanding investments isn’t rocket science. It’s within the grasp of virtually anyone, and I heartily endorse you going out and learning it yourself.

    While taking a certification course from a university is admirable, it’s probably overkill. There are dozens of free courses out there, hundreds of free books at the library and thousands of articles online (including here) that can teach you what you need to know. There are also free investment clubs, both online and in-person, that can introduce you to any number of people willing to help you.

    You’re on the right path. Don’t stop till you reach the end!


    Thank you, Stacy.

    I would likely admit, especially during our current volatile market, that I might be lured into belief that money management is over my head.

    It’s the ferreting out of salient information that is overwhelming for a newbie; a structured class environment appeals to me both from the fact that course material is logically presented, as well as the idea (in my mind, anyway) that there isn’t a party financially vested in me adopting “their” viewpoints on financial planning.

    Trust is one of my biggest issues… which is why I find myself on your website as much as I do. (Yes, that is a compliment.)

    Perhaps I ought to start with a Financial Planning for Dummies type book and proceed from there.

    If I find I have a talent for truly understanding financial planning, pursuing a certificate at a later time might have the benefit of parlaying into additional retirement income as well.

    Again, thank you for your response, and for doing what you do!

    Stacy JohnsonStacy Johnson

    You’re quite welcome, and best of luck. Tell me how it goes! I like your idea of earning a certification, then using it to earn extra money, Nice!


    how much money are you talking about ?? Sorry, but it IS rocket science. How much do you know about investing ?? Stocks, bonds or ETF’s ?? do you know what an ETF is.. My financial adviser works for one of the big brokerage houses owned by Bank of America. He handles our IRA accounts now that I am retired and our stock accounts. We pay our bills online through the company he works for insuring that we always have proof that the bills have been paid.

    We know that the market is down and why because he informs us..if we have any question about a particular section of the market he is a phone call away. He also handles my son’s account as a sub account under our account so he can pay the smaller fee. It’s not cheap. All brokerage accounts in our position pay .01% of your holdings…less investment, higher fee.

    Over the years my financial professionals, with access to more information than a normal person can pick up just by reading any column or taking any courses, have tripled my investments and I started out rather small with another big name brokerage house which did nothing for me but take the $2000 fee they charged just to do not much. My wife who lets me take care of the financial side, since I am in accounting, saw right through them and I changed brokers..lucky to get the same broker my rich boss had.. Like when you are sick and need treatment, it’s not the hospital, it’s the doctor. Well, it’s not the company, it’s the broker. You can log onto any large brokerage house and obtain information about the market, stocks, what the state of the world has to do with affecting financial matters etc.

    An old saying is, if you can’t write teach. I would rather deal with a person who can write.
    By all means try to do it yourself. A friend of my wife trades through Chas Schwab. She proudly informs us that it only costs $9.00 per trade when she buys a stock…well, no…if you go to their website you see that is only $9 if you trade yourself on the computer. If you place the order through an agent who could give you information about what you are doing it is $25.00. If my broker trades 100 times a day it costs nothing. That’s what he gets paid his comision to do.. Sorry for the long post but I have seen several friends lose big time trying to do it themselves. If you want to try it then set aside a sum of money that you can afford to lose, like if you go to Las Vegas because it is gambling..

    Stacy JohnsonStacy Johnson

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Mine is that investing isn’t rocket science. It doesn’t take an advanced degree to allocate part of your long-term savings to stocks, put that money into a low-cost broad-based stock index fund, then leave it there.

    My experience, which includes 10+ years as a Wall Street financial adviser and nearly 40 as an investor, suggests that many people charging money for financial advice, especially if they’re compensated by commissions, can’t be trusted; either because they’re not competent or they’re not objective.

    When I combine my opinion with my experience, I conclude that one not only can do this themselves, they should.


    I used to pay 1% of assets to an advisor. The vast majority cannot and do not beat the index funds. They like to tell you they can get you in the “best funds” but in reality, if you diversify with index funds, it’s very unlikely that they’ll over perform the index funds over time.

    It was hard to fire a friend but I’d rather send myself to Hawaii with my money than him.

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