7 Factors to Determine Whether You Need a Financial Adviser

7 Factors to Determine Whether You Need a Financial Adviser
Photo by Sam Edwards/Getty Images

Should you consult with a financial adviser? It’s a simple question, but the answer depends on your personal situation – your needs, your goals, your financial status, and a range of other factors.


These considerations will help you determine your best course of action. If you fall into any of the seven categories below, it might be time to seek assistance.

  • You lack knowledge. We are all specialists in our careers. Outside our careers, things get sketchy. Do not overestimate your money-management skills – read up on the Dunning-Kruger Effect to see what I mean. Money can be more involved than you think.

  • You lack expertise. Having a history in a profession brings savvy and skill. Experience provides knowledge of how things work in various situations; when something unusual happens, it doesn’t surprise experienced professionals.

  • You do not have the required tools. Professionals have strategies and tools that help project outcomes … not to mention having a professional staff to back them up.


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  • You lack emotional discipline. Humans are emotional creatures. Our decisions are guided by our emotions even when we think we are rational. Professionals bring cold-blooded discipline to your money programs.

  • You need a plan to get started. Sometimes it takes an outsider to see us as we really are and as we need to be. Professionals know what to look for and how to help us reach our objectives.

  • You have complex financial issues. The more complex your financial situation, the more you need help. You may be dealing with taxes, estate planning, properties, various state locales, businesses, creating a retirement income plan, and so on. That’s a lot of specialties.

  • Your time is valuable. Between our careers and personal lives, we’re already very busy. Many don’t want to sacrifice more personal time for money management.


A Person or a Program?

Thinking about an app, computer program, or other “robo-adviser”? An algorithm may do the trick for beginners or relatively simple missions like savings and investing for basic wealth creation. You may want a person if you have complex needs. If you try an automated program and you find it wanting, you’ll have your answer.


Don’t take this as a pitch for professional help: Many people do it themselves just fine, if they are willing to put in the work to do it right. Listening to CNBC isn’t right, nor is thinking cybercurrencies, penny stocks, lotteries, precious metals, insurance policies, stock trading, or multilevel marketing programs are the keys to riches.


You know the financial companies willing to help you. However, if you want an independent adviser, search for them on these sites with your ZIP code:


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About the Author

Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®
Lt. Col. Shane Ostrom, USAF (Ret), CFP®

Ostrom is MOAA's former Program Director, Financial & Benefits Education/Counseling