In today’s do-it-yourself (DIY) world, Americans can find answers to pretty much any question on their own with a simple Internet search. How do I repaint my living room? Google it. What’s the best recipe for sea scallops? Safari to the cooking rescue. In fact, “how to” searches on YouTube are up 70% year-over-year according to one recent study1.

And while there is certainly a place for “web surfing” to help solve many of life’s daily challenges, there is still no substitute for the value of expert advice — especially when planning for something as important as your family’s financial future. According to Voya research2, individuals who work with a financial professional tend to save more and be better prepared for retirement. Not convinced? The study surveyed more than 2,000 individuals and looked at the differences between full-time workers who had a relationship with a financial professional and those who did not — and the differences between the two groups is striking. Here’s a few interesting statistics that might change your mind:

Voya Table_Value of Advice_IRI Blog Post
Despite this strong evidence, some still hesitate to seek professional help with their financial planning. Admittedly, it can be a little intimidating.  And many younger people tend to put it off since retirement is not an immediate need for them.  But taking that first step early on can lead to many long-term benefits, including greater confidence, control and the peace of mind that comes with having a holistic and actionable plan.   

Seven Tips for Selecting a Financial Professional

If you’re thinking about working with a financial advisor, but don’t know where to start, here are a few tips to help you select the right one.

1. Make sure the advisor listens to you and your needs — then develops a personalized, actionable program that includes all aspects of financial planning.

2. Find out the profile of the advisor’s average client and whether he or she specializes in serving any particular market.

3. Ask about how often the advisor will meet with you (in-person or over the phone) and how much you will deal with that specific advisor versus others in the practice. Almost half (49%) of individuals who work with a financial professional meet with or call them at least twice a year, according to Voya’s research.

4. Ask about their background:

  • Is the advisor FINRA Series 6, 7 or 65 registered? To become registered, financial professionals must pass qualifying exams administered by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to demonstrate their competence in the particular securities activities in which they work. Learn more details about FINRA licenses.
  • Does the advisor hold third-party professional designations?
  • How long has the advisor been in the business?

5. Ask whether the advisor is paid on commissions, commissions and fee, or a fee-only basis. It’s important to understand how the advisor is compensated for their services.

6. Once you find your advisor, complete a background check. Visit FINRA’s “BrokerCheck” website at to see if any formal complaints have been filed against the advisor.

7. If you have access to a retirement savings plan at work — like a 401(k), 403(b) or 457 — check with your employer. There may already be an advisor of record for your plan that you can contact.

1) Google Data, 2015, North America. Classifications as a “how to” video was based on public data such as headlines, tags, etc., and may not account for every “how to” instructional video available on YouTube (published May 2015)
2) “The Benefits of Working with a Financial Professional,” Voya Retirement Research Institute® 2014 study designed to measure the retirement readiness of today’s workers and retirees