Aren't all financial professionals qualified to help me?
If you are going to take advice from someone regarding your personal or professional financial situation, wouldn't you agree that you'd like for that person to be highly competent? "Well, of course," you'd say. But is that what happens for most people? What constitutes a "good" financial advisor?
Actually there are basic standards that must be met for anyone to hold themselves out as a financial advisor. But those standards are usually minimum level licenses, such as a license to sell insurance, or a series license to sell securities. Did you notice the key word that I used in both of those examples: sell?
Licensing is designed to enable measurement of a minimum standard to begin selling a product. And there's the rub. A new-hire with Met Life, or Edward Jones, who has passed the minimum licensing requirements is allowed to hold him or herself out as a financial advisor. And they are expected to sell by the companies that they work for.
Now that's not to suggest that the Met Life agent or the Edward Jones rep is a bad advisor. They may have years of experience and be very knowlegable. But how do you know? Financial planning and "advising" are two different things.