Seeking an Investment Advisor

The Jacksons knew they needed help with their wealth-building strategy--here's how they finally found the right financial planner

Certified Financial Planners board.

Come prepared to talk about your strategic vision, just what you want to do and when. A good financial planner will then map out how you’re going to get there. Another tip, says Bolton, is to listen for ways that the planner is customizing a plan for you, and not just “pushing products” that he or she might use for anyone. And finally, meet with several planners and interview each carefully before you dec, de.

The Jacksons felt railroaded the first time they worked with a planner; their next experience, however, came about slowly, and in a way, organically. Dawn worked out at a gym after work and got to know Albert Peltier, a certified estate planner and broker with W.M.A. Securities Inc. of Duluth Georgia, who’d just got his financial planning business off the ground. Over a period of months, she peppered him with questions about saving and investing. She took Peltier’s answers home to Scott, who then checked on the Internet to see how accurate they were. “We were going to ease into this,” says Scott.

They finally worked up the nerve to get together with Peltier, and the planner agreed to come by. In their first meeting–a five-hour session–Peltier landed upon their first desire: a home.

“They had quite a bit saved up,” recalls Peltier, “and being fairly frugal, they wanted to work down their credit card debt.” While that seemed logical, Peltier saw accelerated debt payments as actually blocking their goal. He also noticed that the couple had $20,000 tied up in bank accounts that paid abysmal interest rates. Peltier came up with two items straight off. He advised the couple to open a money market mutual fund account to earn 5% interest. Then, he told Dawn and Scott they’d be better off making minimal payments on their credit cards. That way they were still able to save for the down payment on a home.

After the Jacksons finally secured a new home, and with their first child, Jorre Kiara (now 3) on the way, Peltier sat down with them to talk about finally knocking out their entire credit card debt and making their lives more secure. Their monthly mortgage of $1,400 was well within reach given the couple was earning $95,000 a year; still there remained the question of where the money would come from should some calamity befall either Dawn or Scott.

Know what you’re being charged. Peltier’s solution was variable universal life insurance, or VUL. Peltier says he likes VUL because it combines a term-life insurance policy-one that covers you for a year or so and must be renewed with a mutual fund savings plan. Peltier opened an account for the Jacksons with Western Reserve Life. He also explained his cut, the amount he receives in commissions. Of the $400 the Jacksons put in, 1.2% goes to management fees. Then at the end of the year, Peltier is paid a bonus by Western Reserve, which amounts to about $3,000.

The world of financial planners

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