What to look for in financial planning companies

financial-planningAmeriprise is one of the top financial planning companies. They probably have more advisers in offices around the country than any of the other top financial planning companies. However, a friend of mine swears he will never work with them again.

His experience highlights one of the things that everybody should look for when using a financial planning service, namely, up-front transparency of fees and charges. He felt that the adviser invited him to several ‘chat’ meetings where nothing much happened and he did not realize that he was being charged for the privilege. He felt that he never had adequate explanations of the ‘contract charges’ that were more than the earnings from his investments, held with them. This lack of transparency left him feeling ripped off.

Ameriprise is a good brokerage service and they don’t push their own products ahead of others if they aren’t right for you. This is another thing to look for when comparing the best financial planning companies. However, there is an issue with their pricing policy.

Longevity in the financial business is another factor to consider when searching for the best financial planning companies along with a solid investment ethos. Waddell and Reed have been around for over 70 years and consistently performed above market norms. They sell mutual funds to individual investors through a network of financial advisers. This company’s fund management team has an investment philosophy, which emphasizes long-term secure investing. Fundamentals rather than fads are what make Waddell and Reed successful and they extend this belief to the their investors.

Top financial planning companies make a good habit of beginning with the end in mind. They will guide you with an estate-planning checklist and get you to consider a living will. Your estate is anything left on the table when you are six feet under. So, whether you don’t want to leave anything, or you want to endow your local dog pound, look for a financial planner that takes this approach.

More relevantly perhaps, top financial planning companies will work backwards from your anticipated life expectancy through your target income level when you retire to your required saving and investment level right now and forward. Financial planning should be all about your individual circumstances and ambitions.

Several other top financial planning companies include:

  • ING
  • Merill Lynch
  • Prudential
  • Edward Jones
  • Fidelity
  • Northwestern Mutual
  • Many more in your area, check your local listings

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