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Financial Advisor

Sep 19, 2019 Managing your money isn’t easy. There are a lot of decisions you must make, and you’ll need to grapple with complicated issues like taxes, investing strategies and retirement income planning. Hiring a financial advisor can make things easier. The term "financial advisor" describes a broad group of professionals, though, so it can be tough to figure out exactly whom you want to hire. Before committing to paying someone to manage your money, you should know exactly what your options are, what services they provide and what kind of clientele they serve. If you’re looking for a financial advisor, you can find one today using SmartAsset’s Read More...

Oct 21, 2019 If you’ve ever forgotten to cash a check or left old retirement accounts behind with a job, that money might have wound up in the care of the state government. After a certain period of time, usually five years, states become the owner of accounts and property that has gone unclaimed or abandoned. This is known as escheatment - the process by which abandoned assets get turned over to the state. Read More...

Oct 17, 2019 The Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) designation distinguishes financial advisors and other retirement professionals as experts in helping clients prepare for retirement. To become a CRPC, these individuals must meet several qualifications, undergo hours of training and take an examination. Once a CRPC has their certification in hand, there are continuing education requirements that help keep their knowledge up to date. To find a financial advisor in your area that specializes in retirement planning, you can use SmartAsset's advisor matching tool. Read More...

Oct 09, 2019 When setting a budget, it's important to differentiate between what you need and what you want. Indeed, many budgeting systems ask you to assign percentages to your needs and wants. For instance, the 50/30/20 budget popularized by Elizabeth Warren recommends putting 50% of your budget to "needs" and 30% to "wants." But what actually constitutes a need or a want? Before you start building a budget, it's crucial to understand what really fits into each of these categories, and to honestly and objectively evaluate your spending habits. You might also find it helpful to Read More...

Oct 09, 2019 Advancing into old age brings to the forefront a variety of lifestyle and  financial considerations, including the possibility of transitioning to a full-time nursing home. Whether you are thinking about nursing home care for yourself or for a parent or loved one, there are many factors to weigh and expenses to navigate. You want to make sure, after all, that the facility you choose will be comfortable, clean, well-run and affordable. Read More...

Oct 02, 2019 If you are a federal employee, you may want to work with a Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultant (ChFEBC) to help you address your financial concerns. ChFEBCs are financial professionals that are knowledgeable of changes to federal benefits and associated programs. They also have extensive knowledge about FERS, CSRS, and special provisions. Read on to discover how a ChFEBC can help you address your financial affairs as a government employee. Read More...

Sep 27, 2019 Registered financial advisors use custodians to house and protect their clients’ assets. Often, financial advisors offer multiple custodian options to their clients. This allows them to expand their services, investment options, and diversification of assets. By offering multiple custodians, your financial advisor can match you with one that fits your financial needs. Read on to discover how to choose the right custodian for you. Read More...

Sep 26, 2019 Retirement, illness, disputes with a partner or even lack of interest can make business owners dream of selling. All of the above legitimate reasons to sell, but even owners who aren't thinking of selling may want to plan for the unexpected. Therefore, that planning ideally should start when the business is founded. An exit strategy is an important part of any business plan. However, it’s never too late or early to make preparations for selling your business. Read More...

Sep 26, 2019 The Certified Fixed Income Practitioner designation indicates expertise in all things regarding fixed-income securities. If you are a financial professional. who wants to help people invest in bonds and other somewhat sheltered assets, this can further your career. The CFIP designation also demonstrates a desire to learn and follow ethical standards. Let's look at how the designation works and how professionals can obtain it. Read More...

Sep 25, 2019 Let’s start with some good news. It is not as bad as you’ve heard. The divorce rate is high, but it still requires a lot of variables for a couple to actually get divorced. Still, “probably won’t happen” doesn’t mean your marriage is on stable ground. If your marriage does end badly, chances are you’ll need help. That’s where a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst comes in. Read More...

Oct 02, 2019 There are three types of treasuries with which you’re likely familiar. The first, the United States Treasury, collects your income taxes every year. This isn't that kind of treasury. Scrooge McDuck or Smaug, last of the Great Dragons, control the second type of treasury. This isn't that, either. No, this is a story about corporate treasuries and the professionals who master them. Fewer dragons, but far more opportunity for career advancement. Read More...

Sep 20, 2019 More than half of Americans have invested in a stock-related mutual fund. Most invest through their retirement accounts, often with little direction beyond selecting a 401k fund. But stocks are just one way to grow your money. An increasingly number of investors are exploring alternative investments. There is money to be made here, and arguably the best person to explain that is the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst. Read More...

Sep 20, 2019 A Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional (FPQP) has a proven expertise in the arena of financial planning, which helps them better advise their clients. They are different than most paraplanners because the average paraplanner rarely has a formal certification. Paraplanners are part of a financial planning team and often do most tasks associated with financial planning services. However, they do not usually take the lead in terms of client relationships. Read More...

Sep 18, 2019 An investment's performance could mean the difference between a comfortable retirement and a few more years of work. Therefore, it's vital for financial planners and investment managers to accurately assess investment performance for their clients. A Certificate in Investment Performance Management (CIPM) can tell clients that a financial professional has the expertise they're looking for. Learn what a CIPM does and how they qualify.  Read More...

Sep 19, 2019 There’s no shortage of required licensing exams for financial professionals. From the Series 63 and Series 65 to Series 7, there are many different exams required for various roles within the financial services industry. Financial professionals who pass the Series 6 exam are licensed to sell certain securities and insurance products. Here's a breakdown of what the exam entails and why the license matters. Read More...

Sep 19, 2019 The Series 65, also known as the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination, is a test and license required of most financial professionals. If you're interested in becoming a financial professional, it's just one of the many licenses you may need to succeed in the industry. Read on to learn more about the Series 65, from its issuing body to certification requirements, plus what types of financial professionals it licenses. Read More...

Sep 18, 2019 Certified Risk Managers (CRMs) are financial professionals with training in risk management, which comes in handy when helping clients chart a financial future. The CRM designation is one of the most important designations for risk managers working in the finance, insurance, accounting and legal fields. The CRM designation isn't required for a risk management career, but it can make risk managers more marketable to employers, especially in fields like insurance and finance. Here's how to become a CRM, why it may be important and how it stacks up against other certifications. Read More...

Sep 18, 2019 Your friend wants to borrow $20, so you take a minute to think about it. What happened the last time he borrowed money from you? You might see that 20 bucks again, but even odds say you don’t. So you agree to lend him the money on the condition that he pays you back $25. This is financial risk management in action. Professionals who want to get particularly good at it pursue a Financial Risk Manager certification. Read More...

Sep 17, 2019 Almost no one will know what it means if your business card has a “CPCU” after your name. The “almost” is key here though. Almost no one will understand what CPCU means, but your colleagues will. Future employers will. Business partners and (if lucky enough) investors in any firm you open will. The chartered property casualty underwriter (CPCU) certification is a mouthful, but it’s a big deal in the insurance world. Here’s why. What Is A Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter? The CPCU is a certification offered by The Institutes. It is a credential for the insurance industryRead More...

Sep 17, 2019 Whether you keep the books at a small office or review files for the IRS, accounting is a wide field with many professions in it. At the top of this field sits the CPA. Certified Public Accountants are accounting professionals who have passed both the privately issued CPA exam and public licensing requirements. If you need someone to look at your money, they’re the cream of the crop. Here’s what you need to know about the CPA. Read More...

Sep 19, 2019 The Chartered Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation conveys an insurance professional's expertise in one of seven different insurance topic areas. It's a valuable certification if you are an agent, sales manager or work with insurance agents often. Here's how to get a CIC certification, how it differs from other certifications and how to know if it's the right move for your career. Read More...

Sep 16, 2019 The Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certification helps Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) demonstrate an expertise in all aspects of wealth management. A PFS is someone with a CPA who also offers financial planning services. There are many requirements before getting the PFS designation beyond having a CPA and taking an exam. Professionals with the PFS designation may work for consulting or accounting firms, or run their own firm. Read on to learn what it takes to become a PFS, the benefits of holding the certification and the difference between a PFS and other types of financial professionals. Read More...

Sep 19, 2019 Thinking of becoming a licensed financial professional? You'll likely have to take one - or several - licensing exams. The Series 63 exam focuses on a financial professional's ethical and fiduciary obligations. Read on to learn who should hold a Series 63 license and what the exam entails. Read More...

Sep 16, 2019 Living in a community property state may not make a difference to you if you're single, but it might if you're married or planning to be soon. Community property states handle the division of assets and debts in a marriage differently than equitable distribution states. While you may plan to live happily ever after with your spouse, it's important to understand how you could be affected by the property division laws in your state if divorce becomes a reality. Read More...

Sep 24, 2019 A Certified Management Accountant is an accounting professional specializing in financial management and reporting for organizations. The CMA certification establishes that someone is expert in financial accounting and strategic business management. As a result, the CMA focuses on business decision-making as opposed to audit, tax, or general accounting. Here's how they're certified and what they do. Read More...

Sep 13, 2019 Financial advice comes, mostly, in a sea of acronyms. There is the CPA (Certified Public Accountant), the CFP (Certified Financial Planner), the CIMA (Certified Investment Management Analyst) and more. Each certification marks a slightly different specialty in financial advice and management. That field also includes the ChFC: the Chartered Financial Consultant. They often do good work. Here’s how. What Is A Chartered Financial Consultant? The Chartered Financial… Read More...

Sep 12, 2019 Whether working through your retirement years is an aspiration or a necessity, it doesn’t hurt to have some help with financial planning when considering that aspect of your future. As you set your goals, you might be interested in the fact that there are certain cities in which the senior participation in the labor force has grown more than in others in recent years. Read More...

Sep 11, 2019 When working with a financial advisor to manage your money, it's important to know whether they're required to uphold a fiduciary duty to their clients. Being a fiduciary means advisors are obligated to act in the best interests of the investors they serve. When a breach of that duty happens, it's important to understand what rights you have and how to protect yourself financially. Read More...

Sep 10, 2019 If you’re in a position to need this article, congratulations. We'll try to contact Lamborghini to target you with banner ads. If you’re not, but have decided to read this article anyway, welcome to the 99.98%. Don’t feel too badly, though. This is just an illustration of wealth among U.S. investors. There’s comfortable, there’s rich… and then there’s family office rich. What Is A Family Office? A family office is a one-stop financial shop for the extremely wealthy. They serve as wealth management and financial advisors for high net worth clients typically focused only on the category known as “ultra high net worth.” (This is generally defined as anyone with $30 million or more to invest. A… Read More...

Oct 18, 2019 Here’s the situation: You would like to invest your savings or retirement account. However, not wanting to trust your money to eTrade and luck, you hire an investment advisor who steers your money into mutual funds. Did this advisor gave you good advice? Or does he simply get a commission for each new investor he brings into the fund? This is the question of fiduciary duty, and it is essential to getting good financial advice. The certification of Accredited Investment Fiduciary tries to address this. Read More...

Sep 09, 2019 Chartered financial analyst (CFA) is a designation bestowed by the CFA Institute on financial professionals who are competent and knowledgeable financial analysts. Those who want to earn their CFA certification must first past a rigorous, three-part exam encompassing economics, ethics, money management and a number of other financial topics. Many financial advisors hold the CFA designation. Read More...

Aug 30, 2019 Universal basic income (UBI) is a program often proposed by futurists and progressive politicians. It would provide a basic allowance for everyone in the city, state or country and could make a big impact on your budget. But how would it work exactly? Here's a guide to universal basic income including places that have already tried it, plus pros and cons of the plan and more. Read More...

Aug 28, 2019 An operations professional takes on a lot of responsibility within the financial services industry. They bring clients aboard, receive and deliver funds and assets, collect payments, maintain accounts, and reinvest and disburse funds. To do all of that, they must first take the Security Industry Essentials (SIE) exam. Then, they have to take the Series 99 exam. Here's why the latter exam is important and what it takes to qualify. Read More...

Sep 11, 2019 There are more ways to invest $1 million than you might think. It's smart to have a plan in place and to assess your goals for growth and risk tolerance. Of course, you'll also want to factor in how much time you have until your anticipated retirement date. To help you prepare, we spoke to four money experts. If you actually have the cash on hand - and it’s burning a hole in your brain - you may want to consult a financial advisor directly. SmartAsset’s matching tool can help. Read More...

Aug 23, 2019 A business cycle is the fluctuation of goods and services output in an economy. They’re usually measured by real gross domestic product (GDP) or GDP adjusted for inflation. The purpose of a business cycle is to track economic activity. In practical terms, the business cycle tracks the state of an economy from expansion to contraction and recession. It can affect how you spend, how you invest, and how you access credit. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Common law marriage status can still apply to couples in states across the U.S. Understanding what constitutes a common law marriage is important from a legal and financial perspective if you're pooling assets or sharing the responsibility for debts. Here's a breakdown of what a common law marriage is and how it could affect your finances. Read More...

Aug 19, 2019 A high-net-worth individual (HNWI) is generally someone with at least $1 million in cash or assets that can easily be converted into cash. Most financial institutions provide HNWIs with exclusive services such as access to specialized investment accounts. Some financial advisors work solely with HNWIs, although many have no account minimums for their services. Whether or not you qualify as a high-net-worth individual, a financial advisor can help you manage your investments. Read More...

Aug 01, 2019 Fixed expenses cost the same amount each month and are usually paid on a regular basis. One example of a fixed expense is rent. Variable expenses can change based on the day, week or month. Although discretionary spending is often a variable expense, variable expenses can be necessities, too. For instance, medical costs can be categorized as a variable expense. Read More...

Aug 01, 2019 Financial advisors can earn money a few different ways. They may be fee-only, and get paid exclusively by a client for their services. Other advisors are fee-based, meaning they're compensated by clients as well as  commissions earned by selling certain products or investments. But whether you choose a fee-only or fee-based advisor, the fees will likely be calculated based on the services your advisor provides and the assets they will manage on your behalf.  Learn how asset-based fees work and what you can expect to pay your financial advisor below. Read More...

Jul 31, 2019 Investors pay performance fees to investment advisors based on how the investments the advisor chooses perform. If the investments earn you money, you may have to pay a fee based on how much money you earned. Asset management fees are different. Advisors charge those fees based on a percentage of the total assets you have under management with the advisor. Not all advisors charge performance fees. If you are interested in working with one who does, it is helpful to know exactly what performance fees are and how they work before you move forward. SmartAsset’s free financial advisor… Read More...

Aug 19, 2019 Matador is a stock-trading app for rookie investors that has been available to the general public since March 2019. It’s like many other beginner investing apps (think Robinhood), but with a social interactivity twist. Users can see what their friends and other popular users are buying and selling. You may pick up stock ideas on Matador, but for help diversifying your portfolio and managing your risk, you should consider turning to a financial advisor. Read More...

Jul 26, 2019 While your financial planner may act in your best interest, who acts in the best interest of your financial planner? The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) is a nonprofit trade association for investment bankers, broker dealers and asset managers. If you’re an investment professional or a client, there are a few things should know about SIFMA and how they impacts the financial services industry. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 More than 44 million Americans owe a combined $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. As a result, it's currently the second-highest consumer debt category, behind only mortgages. The good news? There are a variety of government programs offering relief for people with student loan debt, ranging from income-based repayment plans to debt forgiveness programs. And more help may be on the way: Democratic presidential candidates including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have proposed programs that would do away with the country's mountain of student loan debt. Here's what you should know about the debt relief programs currently available to student loan debt holders... and what might be around the… Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Successful real estate agents can make good money. Real estate agent salary earnings come from commissions on property sales. And total income can vary widely depending on experience and other factors. It's important to consider salary opportunities when choosing a career (or switching to a new one) because your income can impact whether you are able to reach your financial goals, like buying a home or retiring. Read More...

Oct 04, 2019 The American Psychological Association’s 2018 survey on stress reports that the average American reported a stress level of 4.9 (on a scale of 1 to 10). Reported stress levels vary by generation, as noted in the report, but also by geographic location. Local lifestyle and environmental factors can impact the amount of stress we feel on a day-to-day basis. Places with higher employment and lower bankruptcy rates, for example, may allow people to plan a more secure future with a  financial advisor. In order to better understand which places may be associated with lower levels of stress, SmartAsset ranked the least-stressed cities in America. Read More...

Aug 12, 2019 Dealing with your finances can be very stressful. Financial therapists work to lessen that stress, or at least help their clients develop a more sustainable and healthy relationship to money. Financial therapy is a brand new field, but more people are turning to financial therapists to get help - not only to straighten out their savings and finances, but also to develop a more sophisticated awareness of how money impacts their mental state of being. Read More...

Jul 09, 2019 Setting goals for your money is the first step in designing a sound financial plan. Whether you hope to save and invest enough to  retire early or simply need to  build up an emergency fund, the right financial strategy can strengthen your efforts in reaching those goals. If you need some direction on which tactics work best, here are 10 ways to improve your odds of achieving financial success. Read More...

Jul 18, 2019 An amortization table shows the schedule for paying off a loan, such as a mortgage. Learn how to make and use one to determine your own loan payoff schedule. You could use the amortization table for other types of loans such as student loans or personal loans, but it helps to know how to make one first. If you need more hands-on help understanding your loans and your overall financial picture, considering enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Jul 03, 2019 Valuation comes in handy if you want to determine your company’s worth or acquire another business. A company's valuation determines the value of a business, and it's worth knowing if you're about to make a transaction. There are a few different methods for valuation, depending on your industry and who is evaluating your business. Read More...

Jun 27, 2019 The law of demand is a basic economics. As the price of at item rises or falls, with all other things staying the same, the demand for it rises or falls. However, despite determining everything from the price of bananas to the average cost of a home in your neighborhood, the law of demand isn't always as rigid many would like it to be. Read More...

Aug 01, 2019 Trading commodity futures lets you bet on the price of commodities including gold and corn. But commodity futures are also a good way to diversify your portfolio by investing in more than just stocks. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Airbnb has not only changed the way a lot of people travel, but also the way that many investors take advantage of their real estate properties. Rather than picking from hotel chains and relatively pricey boutique inns, travelers might instead rent out someone’s home or a room in that home. Investors are noticing this and adjusting accordingly, finding ways to make a stay in their home or property more appealing than traditional lodging. Some are even seeking out specialized guidance from  financial advisors in order to take advantage of their location and charge competitive rental rates. SmartAsset has analyzed these and other… Read More...

Jun 25, 2019 Assets under management (AUM) refers to the market value of the assets a financial institution has discretion over. Increasing AUM is a primary goal of most brokeragesmutual funds and financial advisor firms, and many will use a high AUM as a selling point when marketing themselves to potential investors. How certain institutions define or calculate their AUM can differ slightly. So, it's important to understand these differences before you use a firm's AUM to make any decisions. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 Having a plan for your finances is crucial, and a comprehensive financial plan may include budgeting, saving, investing, paying off debt and creating a roadmap to retirement. Working with a financial advisor can be helpful in creating your personal money plan, but DIY types might prefer to use a financial planning software instead. There are a multitude of options to choose from and each one has a different range of features. If you're a financial advisor yourself, there are also plenty of software options that you can use to help you build plans for your clients. Read More...

Sep 10, 2019 The median financial advisor pay in 2018 was $88,890 - well above the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (DOL). However, pay can vary widely by state, city and level of experience. The profile of your clientele can have an effect as well. We’ll cover all you need to know about financial advisor compensation as well as job requirements and career outlook. Read More...

May 07, 2019 The cost of baby formula across popular brands can average between $1,200 and $1,500 during a baby’s first year, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. But it’s possible to save on baby formula without having to switch to generic and sacrifice the health of your child. You can also find a family-focused financial advisor who can guide you through these and other costs associated with the journey of raising a child. Read More...

May 02, 2019 An M&A advisory firm guides businesses through the complicated world of mergers and acquisitions. While financial advisors mostly work with individuals, M&A firms primarily offer advice to businesses and corporations. If you are considering making a transaction that involves the buying, selling or merger of companies, you'll probably want to work with an M&A advisory firm. Here's what you need to know going in. Read More...

Apr 25, 2019 Growing wealth for the long term is likely one of your most important financial goals. To do that effectively, you may want to work with a financial advisor who has similar values to yours. Christian financial advisors incorporate biblical principles and teachings into their investment strategy. There's also a specific certification, the certified kingdom advisor (CKA) designation, that Christian financial advisors can earn. Read More...

Apr 25, 2019 According to Census Bureau data from 2017, there are more than 71 million people in the U.S. aged 60 and older. Each year more people reach retirement age and decide to make some changes as they enter a new phase of their lives. One big shift could be relocating to other cities or states with the help of a financial advisor. For some, the goal is to avoid paying taxes on all of their retirement savings. For others, it’s the chance to spend their golden years in a new and different climate. Regardless of what’s brought them to a locale, retirees are an important part of city and state economies, so we investigated the data to see where the most retirees are moving. Read More...

Sep 19, 2019 By definition, a fiduciary is an individual organization who manages assets on behalf of another person or entity. Fiduciary financial advisors hold a relationship of trust with their clients and abide by fiduciary duty. Fiduciary duty is the ethical obligation to act solely in someone else’s best interest. In theory, this should minimize conflicts of interest and make a financial advisor more trustworthy. We go over what fiduciary duty entails, why it's important to work with a fiduciary advisor and how you can find a financial planner in your area. Read More...

Apr 16, 2019 A cafeteria plan - also known as a Section 125 plan, after the portion of the IRS code that regulates the plans - lets employees redirect part of their salaries and wages to pay for certain benefits. Section 125 plans let employees use pre-tax dollars for these benefits, which include health and life insurance. Read More...

Apr 12, 2019 A paraplanner is a financial services professional who handles administrative, accounting and other support tasks for a financial advisor. A paraplanner is a  financial advisory office's equivalent of a paralegal. Read More...

Apr 10, 2019 While it's possible to manage your assets and grow your wealth yourself, many people seek the advice of a professional. As you seek out a financial advisor, you might encounter many certifications and acronyms describing both advisors and their firms. A registered investment advisor (RIA) firm is one option you may consider. Understanding what an RIA firm is and how they help their clients can help you decide whether it's the right path for you. Read More...

Sep 10, 2019 A chartered financial analyst (CFA) is someone who holds a professional designation from the CFA Institute, an international association of financial professionals. CFAs primarily review individual investments, market trends and other factors to help individuals shape their portfolios and achieve a target asset allocation. Many financial advisors and wealth managers are CFAs. Earning a CFA certification means passing the CFA exam. If you're interested in becoming a CFA, or you're planning on working with one… Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 Financial advisor is not a specific term that applies to a single job or role. Indeed, you'll hear financial professionals filling a number of different roles and performing a number of different tasks described as financial advisors. Generally speaking, a financial advisor provides financial advice and guidance to clients tailored to their situation and goals. This can range from building an investment portfolio to retirement planning. If working with a financial advisor is something that appeals to you, make sure you know what financial advisors do and how they can help you. Read More...

Apr 09, 2019 Fee-only financial planners earn compensation for their services only. They don't earn commissions or kick-backs for recommending certain products. This fee structure reduces potential conflicts of interest, which is why fee-only financial planners are viewed as the most reliable financial advisors. They have a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests at all times. Read More...

Apr 08, 2019 Financial security means different things to different people. To some, it may mean having enough money to cover all your bills, save for retirement and then have some left over. To others, it may mean earning a six- or seven-figure income, maintaining a robust investment portfolio and owning several real estate properties. Regardless of your interpretation of what it means to be financially secure, it’s likely on your long-term list of financial goals to achieve financial security.  Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 A marital trust is a type of irrevocable trust that allows you to transfer assets to a surviving spouse tax free. It can also shield the estate of the surviving spouse before the remaining assets pass on to your children. This article will explain how a marital trust works and how you can establish one. We can also help you find a financial advisor who will guide you through the often-complex rules of a marital trust, so your family can make the most of it. Read More...

Sep 19, 2019 Think you want to help people manage their money and meet their ultimate financial goals? If so, you may be wondering how to become a financial planner. The process for becoming a financial planner varies depending on what kind of advising or planning you want to do. As with most jobs, a successful financial planning career begins and ends with quality education. Many financial planners will even earn a certified financial planner (CFP) designation. Let us walk you through what it'll take to get into the financial planning business. Read More...

Apr 05, 2019 When choosing a financial advisor, pay attention to what certifications they've obtained. Common certifications you'll see include certified financial planner (CFP), chartered financial analyst (CFA) and certified public account (CPA). Advisors earn these designations to assure clients that they have the training, experience and ethical standards needed to provide sound financial advice. One that is less common but still important is the certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA) certification. Make sure you know exactly what this means if you come across a Read More...

Sep 19, 2019 Financial advisors are among the most important workers in the financial services industry. They help both individuals and institutions manage their money and set themselves up for a secure financial future. Not just anyone can become a financial advisor, though. It takes a lot of work, including training, exams and certifications, to prove that you know your stuff when it comes to matters of personal finance. If you want to be a financial advisor, make sure you know what you are in for and that you’re prepared for the path towards this career. If you are looking for a financial advisor who has adequately followed the path already, considering finding one with SmartAsset’s Read More...

Mar 29, 2019 Losing your job can be a punch in the gut, both emotionally and financially. You may see it coming if your company is experiencing hard times, or you may be completely blindsided. Sometimes, though, your employer will help ease your transition by offering you a severance package. Severance packages are quite common in the workplace. Employers use them both to help employees while they seek new employment and to protect themselves from public criticism and potential lawsuits. We'll take a look at what you should expect in a severance package and how to negotiate one for yourself. Read More...

Jul 22, 2019 A broker-dealer is one of the most important people or firms you’ll work with as you invest your money. Broker-dealers are the professionals who buy and sell securities for clients while building their own portfolios. Many of your investments will be made through broker-dealers, and you’ll be paying them to do it. Knowing what broker-dealers do, how you’ll be paying them for their services and any potential conflicts of interest is important. It ensures you're building your portfolio in the most efficient way possible. Read More...

Mar 28, 2019 Selling a house is a major decision that demands careful consideration. After all, securing more money from selling your home gives you more capital to invest with your financial advisor. Your location, for one, plays a major factor. Houses in some places will sell immediately, while others stay on the market for months. Home values in your area may also mean that it's easier or more difficult to sell your home for a profit. We considered those factors and more to create this list of the best cities to sell a house. Read More...

Aug 01, 2019 Those seeking a financial advisor will encounter two types of fee structures: fee-only and fee-based. The difference between the two might not be immediately apparent. Still, as you research advisors to help you plan your financial future, you should understand exactly how you’ll be paying them and what their compensation model means for you. If you want help finding an advisor, consider using SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. Read More...

Mar 19, 2019 Prenuptial agreements, commonly known as prenups, are agreements that couples sign before marriage. They specify how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. Prenups have become more common and less taboo in current times. However, misconceptions about the purpose of a prenup still persist. Read More...

Mar 11, 2019 The old saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail," is a philosophy with many applications. Perhaps nowhere does it apply more, though, than to personal finance. Financial planning takes into account myriad factors including taxes, saving and investing. A financial planner is a professional who helps people to create a plan for their financial future. To find one to help you, use SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. Read More...

Sep 27, 2019 Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a court-approved process that lets you create a repayment plan to cover most or all of your debt in the course of three to five years. Through this process, you can protect your home from foreclosure. To be eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you need to produce regular income and meet a few other requirements. This article will explain how to qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and walk you through the entire process, so you could finally live debt free. If you want more hands-on help with your Chapter 13 bankruptcy questions, check out our free financial… Read More...

Jul 31, 2019 When you work with a financial advisor, you’ll generally pay them via an advisory fee. This is often based on a percentage of your assets under management (AUM). Other common fee types are flat fees and hourly fees. Fee-only advisors make money solely from these advisory fees. Fee-based advisors, however, earn money in a variety of other ways in addition to the standard advisory fee. Make sure you know what fees you'll pay and of any potential conflicts of interest your advisor may have. If you need help finding a financial advisor, consider using SmartAsset’s free financial advisor… Read More...

Sep 19, 2019 The Series 7 license allows professionals to sell securities in the U.S. To obtain it, they must pass a rigorous exam covering various financial topics. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) administers the test, and most employers in the financial services industry require their employees to pass this exam. We’ll explain what the Series 7 exam covers and what it means to have a Series 7 license. If you want a find a financial advisor who has a Series 7 certification, check out our free financial advisor matching tool to get linked to up to three experts in your area who best meet your particular needs. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 Disabled and need help? Look to Social Security disability. The monthly payments available to the disabled are provided through two Social Security Administration programs. The approval process is fairly complicated, though, and you must meet relatively strict standards to qualify. If you think that Social Security disability is something you may need, either now or in the future, make sure you know exactly what to expect and what requirements you'll need to meet. Read More...

Feb 26, 2019 Betterment and Personal Capital stand as two of the biggest robo-advisors available today. Betterment oversees more than $13.5 billion in assets under management (AUM), and Personal Capital juggles $8.5 billion in AUM. Both combine technology and human acumen to manage clients' finances. The two firms offer services like automated investment portfolios, tax-minimization strategies and financial planning tools. But the breadth of these services as well as fees vary. This article will tell you all you need to know about these two robo-advisors. It’ll also help you determine a winner in the Personal Capital vs. Betterment match-up. Read More...

Feb 13, 2019 Many people under intense public scrutiny, such as politicians, judges and high-powered business people, use blind trusts to avoid the perception of conflicts of interest when it comes to their personal financial dealings. A type of living trust, it allows individuals to store assets in a way in which the beneficiary has no control over them. This lessens the possibility that the individual's actions will impact their own net worth. Read More...

Mar 28, 2019 Do you know enough about financial management to take care of all of your investing on your own? Or do you need help from a seasoned expert? That question comes up for millions of Americans each year. If any of these describe you, you could benefit from professional financial advice: Read More...

Sep 19, 2019 Managing your finances can be difficult. Particularly when it comes to complex matters like investing and building a retirement plan, it’s nice to have a second opinion from an expert. That’s exactly what a financial advisor is: A financial planning expert who can help you meet your personal finance goals. While any advisor will have a good general working knowledge of financial planning, many advisors also specialize in certain topics, from investing to retirement income to estate planning. So when you’re looking for an advisor, it’s important to find one who can help with your particular needs. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Affordable housing markets are something of a rarity among big cities these days. This is especially true when you look at the cities with the strongest economies, like New York or San Francisco. Even many once-affordable markets are trending toward scenarios where residents are housing cost-burdened. This is a significant shift that spurs people to take a holistic look at their financial situation and evaluate whether they can remain in a increasingly pricey place. Those who are finding it difficult to afford homeownership amid rising costs may need to be extra creative with their financial advisor. Are you in an area susceptible to this… Read More...

Nov 26, 2018 A chartered life underwriter, or CLU, is a financial services certification for  financial advisors who specialize in life insurance within the context of estate planning. Although many advisors have experience with estate planning, CLUs go through rigorous training to earn this designation. Below we go in-depth about what a CLU does, who should consider working with one and how much relationships with these professionals typically cost. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 You may think you have a good sense of where in the country residents are making the most money. But the counties whose well-heeled, deep-pocketed denizens are pulling in the most coin may not include the fanciest zip codes you're imagining. That's because there's more to income than just wages. In fact, a Federal Reserve survey found that wage income makes up only 61% of pretax income for the average family. From interest income saved in a high-yield saving account to investment income earned through a financial advisor and retirement income through an IRA built up over years… Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Back in 1989, the average American could expect to live until 75. Roughly 27 years later, the average life expectancy in the U.S. has crept up to nearly 79 years. But while the increased life expectancy is certainly good news, it is also a double-edged sword for Americans when it comes to financial planning. Given that they are living longer, Americans need to be more prepared than ever for retirement, whether that's in building their own savings in tax-advantaged accounts or investing with a professional financial advisor. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the… Read More...

Nov 14, 2018 Applying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is a multi-step process. One of the most crucial steps is when the SSA and a partner agency called Disability Determination Services (DDS) attempt to verify your qualifications for disability benefits. To do this, these agencies need your consent to review your medical records. That’s where Form SSA-827 comes in. Read More...

Jul 17, 2019 12b-1 fees are annual distribution fees related to mutual funds. They are an operational expense, and they're usually a part of a fund’s expense ratio. In this guide, you'll find not only an in-depth explanation of 12b-1 fees, but also ways that you may be able to keep your fees low. If you have more questions about mutual funds or the charges associated with them, consider meeting with a financial advisor in your area. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Sometimes when it comes to your finances, going at it alone can be intimidating as you try to come up with a game plan. But you want to make sure you're consulting the right expert for your needs. How does a  financial advisor, for example, differ from a wealth manager? Wealth managers are just one kind of financial advisor who work with a specific clientele: those with a high net worth. However, you don't need to be super rich just to work with a wealth manager. Minimum account sizes vary. And you may want to consider their services even if you don't have that much to invest, because they offer comprehensive management of your finances. To help you understand… Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 When it comes to  estate planning and making plans for the medical unknown, an advance directive can be extremely important. If you live in Ohio and you’re considering drafting up an advance directive for yourself, this guide will walk you through the basics of what it is, how to create it and if it’s right for you. Making plans for the end of your life is extremely important even if it’s not the rosiest task. Luckily, talking with a financial advisor can streamline the process significantly. SmartAsset’s Read More...

Nov 19, 2018 There are many ways to become a successful investor, and asset management and hedge funds are two prominent options. There are undoubtedly some similarities between these investment styles. However, each service has its own nuances that can make it more or less suited for your personal financial situation. Before you make any final decisions on your finances, consider meeting with a fiduciary financial advisor to ensure you're making the right choices. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Home prices are on the rise in America’s largest cities, and incomes are just not keeping up. Outside of the wealthiest residents, homeownership is not in the cards for many in those cities. Adding extra pressure on prospective homeowners' budgets are high debt payments, including record levels of student debt. In fact, debt is an often overlooked factor in the analysis of how much house residents can afford. A family with high household income but a lot of debt can probably not afford as much house as the initial income figures suggest. But being savvy and finding areas with high median incomes and low median house costs allows households to get the most bang for their buck in the housing market. It's ultimately an undertaking for which you may want to consult a  Read More...

Oct 17, 2018 A sophisticated investment plan can mean an early retirement or just a retirement without financial stress. And whether they are relying on the expertise of a financial advisor to manage their finances or going it alone, Americans are, indeed, investing to grow their wealth. According to IRS data, Americans reported earning $613 billion in passive income in 2016. That makes their investment gains equal to about 8% of the salary and wage income earned in the U.S. during the same period. That $613 billion, however, is not spread evenly across the country.  Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Are you asking yourself, do I need a financial advisor? The short answer is yes, you probably do. A financial advisor is a professional who can assist you with your finances in a number of ways. This expert can help with investing, financial planning, retirement planning and more. Obviously not every single person needs a financial advisor. However, if you have a certain level of investable assets and are thinking about your financial future, working with a financial advisor is key. This guide below walks you through what financial advisors do and why they’re important. Plus, it examines exactly who will be well-served by working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Trick-or-treating is a high-reward, low-risk undertaking. That's why people in the U.S. are particularly spirited about grabbing their pillow cases and hitting the streets. In fact, FiveThirtyEight data shows around a quarter of Americans count Halloween among their top-five favorite holidays. And what’s not to love? For kids, it’s a time of shameless candy-binging and dressing up, and for adults, well, it’s much of the same. But depending on where you live, you could have a great trick-or-treating experience, with candy to last a year, or a negative one that leaves you with just apples and sore calves. The benefits of a great trick-or-treating town are more than just theoretical. Places with a high density of single-family homes, a low chance of rain and minimal crime will optimize your experience. That mirrors the reasoning Read More...

Oct 04, 2018 Around 30% of workers nationwide do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. For these workers, independent retirement accounts like Roth IRAs or SEP IRAs are crucial investment vehicles for building their nest eggs. These accounts also provide tax-advantaged opportunities for workers with employer-sponsored plans to sock away additional money for retirement, which can come in handy as Americans live longer and the cost of healthcare rises. Given the increasing importance of saving for retirement, SmartAsset decided to dig into IRS data to find the places where residents are using independent retirement accounts the most. Read More...

Oct 04, 2018 Famously, Apple started out of a garage with little up-front cash. But your typical startup requires more than just a some empty space and a brilliant idea. To create a successful company, you need some money to pay for office space, employees and everyday bills from utilities to legal fees. This can dampen entrepreneurs' ability to bring their business ideas to life especially if they don't have much capital in their savings account. Imagine trying to start a new company in San Francisco with its exorbitant cost of living. Below we look at a slew of factors to rank the cities with the lowest and highest startup costs in the country. Read More...

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