When to Hire a Financial Advisor (And Where to Find One)

Dann Albright 27-12-2016

Most of the time, we’re all for educating yourself about your own finances instead of hiring someone else to take care of them for you. Whether that’s through podcasts 10 Podcasts That'll Help You Save Money & Get Out of Debt There are a lot of money-related podcasts out there, but these 10 are the best for helping you get out of debt and master your money. Read More , online courses, careful research, or getting advice online, it usually works. But sometimes you need to call in a professional.


Financial advisors don’t often come cheap, but there are a few times when it’s worth the expense. Here are five times you should hire an advisor to avoid the headache of dealing with it yourself.

Note: The resources for finding financial professionals listed below are for the U.S. only. If you live in another country, though, there are plenty of similar resources available for where you live.

When You Want to Start Investing

When I say “start investing” here, I mean on a larger scale. Using Acorns or Clink to invest small amounts of change doesn’t require a financial advisor. But if you receive a large windfall, decide to start investing a significant portion of your income, or are planning to invest for retirement, you’ll want some professional advice. You can certainly spend time learning and doing it yourself, but you’ll have to weigh the time spent versus the cost of an advisor.

investing in a house
Image Credit: Hannah Chiraphan via Shutterstock

A good financial advisor will help you get the most out of your investments. They’ll tell you the types of investments to make, how much risk you should take, and your expected return. This is especially useful if you have specific goals for your investments, like retirement or buying a new house.


Of course, using a roboadvisor Robots Can Manage Your Investments: What You Need to Know Managing your finances can be intimidating. It's tempting to let someone else handle investments for you, but can you trust a robot to oversee your money? Read More is always an option, too. But while they’re customizable and can help you with specific portfolios, they can’t respond to your specific goals. If you want to make sure to get the absolute most out of your investments, talking to a professional is the way to go.

Finding a financial advisor that will work with someone who has less than $500,000 to invest isn’t always easy. But The Garrett Planning Network can help you find one. Their affiliated advisors have no minimums, and only charge hourly fees, instead of percentages. LearnVest [No Longer Available] is also a great option if you’re okay with having email-only access to your advisor.

When Your Taxes Are Complicated

You might be saying, “Taxes are always complicated!” And I wholeheartedly agree. But there are times when things get especially arcane. Filing your taxes as a freelancer with multiple clients, for example, can be quite complex. A change in your life situation (a new job, getting married, a death in the family) can also make for a tax nightmare. Self-employment, significant investments, owning multiple properties, and trying to figure out issues with dependents can also make for more complicated taxes.

taxes 1040 form
Image Credit: scanrail1 via Shutterstock


Hiring an accountant or a tax preparer can be very expensive, especially if your tax situation is complicated. But in many cases, the few hundred dollars you’ll spend hiring one will be more than worth it. When you count up the number of hours you’ll spend preparing your own taxes and add the potential for error and an audit, I think you’ll find that hiring a professional is preferable.

To find a tax professional, you can use the IRS directory or run a local search. You can also check the National Association of Enrolled Agents, which may be cheaper than hiring a certified public accountant.

When You’re Preparing Your Will

Like most other financial activities, you can prepare your own will online. But if you have significant assets or you’re worried about what will happen to them after you die, hiring a professional is the way to go. There are a number of different things you’ll want to know about, like wills, trusts, power of attorney, and other related issues. A professional will be able to tell you all about these things.

fountain pen will
Image Credit: alexskopje via Shutterstock


If you die without a will, your assets will be put in probate, and may be distributed by a court. How exactly the court will distribute everything depends on your state laws and the court’s judgement. So making sure your will is legally binding, clear, and exactly how you want it is crucial for ensuring your assets get distributed how you want them.

Estate planning might not sound like a fun process — you’ll have to admit your own mortality to get started — but it’s a really good idea for you and your relatives, whether they’re named in your will or not. The National Association of Accredited Estate Planners is a good place to start looking for someone to help you out with this important process. also has a nice search page you can use.

When You’re in a Lot of Debt

Fighting your way out of debt without advice from a financial professional is certainly possible. In fact, we’ve given you a lot of tips on how to do it. But if your debt is starting to feel extreme, you owe a lot of money to many different creditors, or collections agencies are starting to harass you, it might be time to call in a professional.

debts folder
Image Credit: Tashatuvango via Shutterstock


Debt professionals can help you settle or consolidate your debts, create debt repayment plans, declare bankruptcy, and assist in many other ways that will help you manage and erase your debt. Of course, there are tons of things you can do to start the process. Budgeting, improving your credit score 5 Tricks to Improve Your Credit Score in Just 6 Months Improving your credit score seems complicated and confusing -- but it doesn't have to be! See how one writer went from the 300s to the high 600s in six months. Read More , and expense tracking can all be done without the help of a professional. But if those aren’t going to cut it, it’s time to hire someone. is a good place to start looking for a debt professional. They’ll put you in touch with Better Business Bureau-accredited organizations that can help. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can also put you in touch with a professional, and you can schedule an appointment directly from their site.

When You Just Don’t Want to Manage Your Finances

While many people will say there’s no excuse for not dealing with your money, some people just hate it. And that’s fine. But if you aren’t taking steps to secure your financial future, you need to make sure someone is. A financial advisor can help out with this by recommending management strategies, helping you set goals, and occasionally reminding you that you need to do something.

complicated finances
Image Credit: Cartoonresource via Shutterstock

Of course, you’ll have to pay for this, and that trade-off may or may not be worth it. Many advisors won’t work with you unless you have $50,000 or even $100,000 in invested assets. You’ll probably have to pay a percentage of your assets every year. So the cost could be quite large. But if managing your finances is the last thing you want to do, it might be worth it.

You can use the resources listed in the first section above to find a financial advisor for helping you manage your finances. You can also find a financial planner using the search tool on the Certified Financial Planner website. A planner will be more focused on helping you set and meet goals, which will give you good reason to better manage your finances.

Seek Help When You Need It

We’re big on educating yourself and making good financial decisions without the help of a professional. But some situations call for professional help. Whether you have complicated taxes, are planning your estate, or just don’t want to deal with your money, a financial professional can help you out.

Have you hired a financial professional? Which type? Or do you prefer to handle your own finances? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Image Credit: racorn via

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Marty Carroll
    December 29, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Thanks for sharing valuable information while hiring financial planner. But before hiring any financial advisor you must check few points about your advisor like CFP(certified financial planner), Pay Structure, Availablity, Background and Credentials.

    • Dann Albright
      December 31, 2016 at 1:10 am

      That's true; the more information you have, the better. Whether or not they have a CFP may or may not be an important factor in someone's decision, but knowing all of that is definitely good.

  2. dragonmouth
    December 27, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    How do I know that the financial advisor has MY best interests in mind, not his, when he gives me investing advice? My stock brokers certainly did not. That is why now I make all the investing decision. I don't need help from anybody to lose money, I am quite capable of doing it on my own. :-)

    • Dann Albright
      December 28, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      Choosing a financial advisor comes down to a lot of different things; finding one that has officially accepted fiduciary responsibility, that understands your goals and what you want to reach them, and things like that. A stock broker is pretty different than a financial advisor, as well (especially when it comes to fiduciary responsibility, I'd imagine). And yes, you can always take a shot at losing money on your own. :-) But when you're about to tackle a major decision, it's good to at least get a second opinion.

  3. Hildy J
    December 27, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    I use or have used a certified financial planner, an estate attorney, and a CPA for tax prep. I am now comfortably retired with about $1.5m in my rollover IRA and brokerage accounts. I can't speak to the debt relief portion of the article but I will offer my thoughts on the other segments.

    When you want to start investing. An advisor is probably overkill. Spend a weekend researching discount brokers, look through their websites, and pick one. Open an account and park your money. Since you will eventually want to invest the bulk in stocks, I'd put it in an ETF that tracks the S&P500. Do enough research (your brokerage should have this) so that you understand those terms that I just threw out (and others that show up in market news). Then go to roboadvisors (your brokerage probably has some) or internet investing sites to get a mix of investments you feel comfortable with. Find ETFs that track those segments and move your money into them. Then sit back and relax.

    When your taxes are complicated. Tax prep software has gotten really good. If you don't like using it, a tax prep firm will fill it out for you. That said, for complicated returns, a CPA specializing in taxes is the way to go. Pick one and talk to them early (ideally before the new year) to tell them your situation and find out what you need to gather, what you can estimate, etc. If you have irregular income, make sure to discuss quarterly estimated tax payments.

    When you're preparing your will. By all means find an estate attorney to help you with this. Note that you can avoid probate for you bank and brokerage accounts by designating heirs via Payable on Death orders for banks, Transfer on Death orders for brokerage accounts and beneficiaries for IRA accounts.

    If you just don't want to manage your finances. Buy a mutual fund who's record and strategy you like. Or I'll do it for you for 2.5% a year with a minimum yearly charge of $25k (which is not as outrageous a fee as you think).

    Managing your investments is not that hard for most people.

    • Dann Albright
      January 5, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      All good advice. I went back and forth on whether to recommend an advisor for people who are just starting to invest, but figured that it was better to talk to someone than not, at least for most people. Getting started by yourself is certainly doable, and advisable for many people, but setting up a single meeting (or even a couple) will likely benefit people who have no idea what they're doing. If they DO know what they're doing, then they know they can ignore that advice. :-)