In Getting a Grip on Your Money, I outline an approach to investing simple enough that you can do it without an investment advisor. If you have an investment or 401(k) plan at work, you can often get a good start investing through that channel.

However, if you want the assurance of an advisor, it’s important to find an advisor who will work well with you. Therefore, I have included an extra section at the back of Getting a Grip on Your Money that tells you how to look for an advisor. Here are a few hints from that section:

What a financial adviser can do for you

  • A financial adviser can help you refine your goals and suggest the mix of investment products and services to achieve those goals.
  • The adviser can facilitate the transaction to see that your accounts are set up correctly.
  • The adviser can help you review your progress and your goals periodically to see that your investments are still appropriate.
  • The adviser can also help you avoid unnecessary taxes and keep you posted on changes in the law that may affect you.

What a financial adviser can’t do for you

  • A financial adviser can’t set your goals for you.
  • The financial adviser also can’t make you stick with the discipline that it takes to have money to invest.
  • A financial adviser can’t guarantee what any particular investment will return, and a good adviser will occasionally remind you of that.
  • A good financial adviser also won’t claim an ability to consistently “beat the market,” and will not recommend short-term trading strategies that involve frequent transactions.
  • A good financial adviser can’t guarantee that your investments will never go down; in fact, for most people the right set of investments will involve occasional losses.

The best single way to find an investment advisor: Ask for recommendations from friends and neighbors. Listen carefully to what you hear.