Trying to find the best financial advisors in Sacramento, California-or anywhere, really-can seem difficult at first glance, considering the variety of finance professionals whose offerings sound similar. For one, the term financial advisor can apply to several types of financial services professionals, such as CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) professionals and broker-dealers.
These different types of financial advisors can vary greatly in areas such as fees, legal duties to clients, and financial services expertise. As such, finding the best financial advisors in Sacramento requires looking closely at financial professionals’ qualifications to see whether they can provide the type of financial advice you’re looking for in a way that aligns with your specific needs.
Consider Fee Structure and Fiduciary Status
Financial advisors can charge for their services in a variety of ways, but we believe that the best financial advisors are those that operate on a fee-only basis. That means that whether that financial advisor offers investment management, tax planning, retirement planning, etc., their fees come directly-and only-from clients.
This fee structure helps eliminate conflicts of interest and helps create alignment between advisor and client. For example, if the specific fee-only structure is based on the assets that the advisor manages on behalf of the client, then the advisor has a vested interest in helping the client’s investments perform as well as possible.
In contrast, fee-based or commission-based advisors can receive payment from other sources, such as when a company pays an advisor for getting clients to invest in their mutual fund. This type of fee structure can create conflicts of interest, as an advisor may be motivated by these commissions, even if they’re supposed to act in a client’s best interest.
We also believe that the best financial advisors are fiduciaries, meaning they have a legal obligation to put clients’ interests first and act with a duty of loyalty and care.
Look at Licensing
In addition to the fee structure and fiduciary status, finding the best financial advisors in Sacramento should also involve considering the different certifications that advisors may hold. For example, a CFP® designation signifies expertise in comprehensive financial planning, as attaining this certification requires meeting rigorous educational standards, with training across 72 areas of finance.
Other types of credentials may signify more specific types of expertise, such as how a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) may excel at tax planning. While some certifications may be helpful for you, other credentials may not be since they may not require extensive education or experience. We recommend that people looking for a financial advisor in the Sacramento or Roseville, CA area assess the requirements of a credential that a potential financial advisor holds and whether it complements their financial goals.
Explore the Types of Financial Advice Offered
While credentials can provide a good initial indicator of the advisory services a financial professional can offer, they may not tell the full story. For example, even if an advisor is not a CPA, they may have significant experience helping clients with tax planning. Conversely, some financial professionals may say they offer financial planning when, in actuality, they may be focused on just investment management.
It’s important to take the time to thoroughly explore and compare the specific areas of financial advice that your potential advisors offer to see whether they seem likely to help you reach your financial goals. Moreover, explore the types of clients the advisors work with to get a sense of whether they may be a fit for you. For example, a firm with experience transitioning clients into retirement might be a good option if you are looking for retirement planning help.
Where to Find the Best Financial Advisors in Sacramento
Knowing what to keep in mind during your search, you can find financial advisors in Sacramento or your local area by searching through online directories that fit your criteria. For example, if you want to find a fee-only financial advisor, you can turn to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) or FeeOnlyNetwork.com.
Similarly, you can find a financial advisor with a specific certification by searching directories provided by the organizations that regulate these designations. For example, to find a CFP® practitioner in your area, you can search LetsMakeaPlan.org.