The 5 Most Important Qualities to Seek in a Financial Planner

School of Financial Wellness

A checklist of qualities to look for in a good financial advisor

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Financial Fingerprint: How to Approach Your Retirement Questions presented by William D. Connor, Financial Advisor at Meld Financial.

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DEFENSE WINS RETIREMENT™: How to Shift Your Strategy From Growth to Income presented by Kyle Whittington, CFP®, President at Meld Financial. The webinar will be held on August 24th at 3:00 PM Central Time. There is no cost to attend, but you must register in advance.


There are a lot of financial planners out there. That means you have a lot of choices when you’re looking for the right professional to help secure your financial future. So, where do you begin?

We’ve compiled a list of the top qualities to look for when hiring a financial planner. We know what it’s like to entrust your money to someone else because we’ve been there, both personally and professionally. And, we know the right decision can make the difference between financial stress and financial success.

Financial Planners should have Integrity

This one is top of the list for us and for every single client we have. In many professions, integrity is subjective, dependent upon your individual professional standards. In the world of financial planning, there are certifications that bind financial planners to certain ethical standards.

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™, for instance, are required by the CFP® Board to adhere to certain rules of conduct and ethical standards, which are constantly being updated to match the pace of business and innovation. If a CFP® violates those standards, he or she is subject to disciplinary action that can include permanent revocation of your CFP® status.

At Meld Financial, we believe integrity also goes beyond the requirements of a CFP® certification. You want a financial planner who is committed to helping you achieve your financial goals in a way that makes you feel comfortable and confident. That’s why we encourage our clients not to be swayed by unintelligible jargon or overconfidence. The best financial planners take pride in being of service, not being a know-it-all.

Financial Planners should have Situational Awareness

This is one you might not immediately think of when you consider financial planning, but we consider it a vital part of the process. Good financial planners work diligently to understand their clients’ unique situation, gaining a firm grasp of individual goals, risk tolerance and overall financial picture. If they consider each client’s financial situation before designing a plan to achieve his or her goals, they have situational awareness.

At Meld Financial, we have developed a comprehensive program that ensures our advisors are situationally aware. We call this proprietary program Situational Investing, and over the years, it has become core to how we approach every client relationship.

Financial Planners should have Robust Financial Knowledge

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ have to satisfy certain educational requirements to obtain their certification. So, completing the mandatory coursework is fundamental. But when we talk knowledge, we’re talking about more than classes and degrees.

Strong financial planners understand that the work of an advisor is complex. It includes not just financial planning but tax planning and estate planning, retirement planning and wealth management, as well. It involves analyzing different products and investment vehicles, plus the associated risk, and making the right recommendations for your clients. And on top of all that, it requires a deep and studied understanding of each individual client and the ability to adapt their strategies to fit the individual situation. In short, financial planners need more than education – they need knowledge.

Financial Planners should be Experienced

Knowledge comes with experience. That is why experience is another of our top 5 things to look for in a financial planner.

You want someone who has worked with a variety of clients. In addition, that someone should understand how to build trust and client-centric goals.  Finally, that someone should have weathered good financial climates and bad. That doesn’t mean you need a financial planner with gray hair and grandchildren; you just need someone who has made every year in their career count, building a track record of success.

Financial Planners should have a Diverse Team of Experts at their Disposal

While it’s important to understand the various individual qualities that your financial planner should bring to the table, it’s just as important to understand that the best financial planners don’t act alone. Your financial picture is complex, and as good as any one person can be, you will get the best bang for your buck with a team of financial professionals at your disposal.

These specialists should be fluent in taxes, estates, law and wealth management to ensure your financial plan is as comprehensive as possible. A financial planner should also have staff members who can support the team, allowing each professional to focus on his or her specific focus area. When your financial planner has the freedom to focus on what matters most to your financial plan, you will undoubtedly get better results.

Finding a financial planner who checks all those boxes may seem like an impossible task, but we assure you, they are out there. And, knowing what to look for will help you cut through the noise of the crowded financial advisory industry and find the right person for you.

Want to explore what Meld Financial has to offer? Click here to schedule an introductory meeting with a member of our team.

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Why Meld Financial?

Meld Financial, Inc. is an independent wealth management firm located in Birmingham, AL.

We specialize in financial planning, investment management, employee benefits and executive benefits for individuals, families, trusts, foundations and institutions.

We provide independent and objective services melded with customer-driven financial goals.

Mark McGarvey - Chairman - Meld Financial

“We will always recommend the same course of action we would choose for ourselves, given the same circumstances.”

-Mark McGarvey, Chairman