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A question that must be answered by investors who are suspicious of financial advisers: What is the cost of your skepticism?

If you manage your own money, can you generate the return you need to reach your financial goals? Can you also do the planning required to save enough in your working years, minimize taxes and debt and look after estate-related matters? If not, then you will need the help of the financial advice business.

That’s a preamble to my answer to a recent question from a reader on behalf of her brother, who is retiring this summer and will have a substantial six-figure amount to invest. “He doesn’t know who to trust with helping him,” she wrote. “He is suspicious of brokers and banks. Any suggestions?”

To start, avoid brokers and banks. There are some good people working in brokerage firms and banks, but these outlets are ultimately sales operations where the point is to have clients buy products and earn fees. The brother’s chances of getting professional financial planning and advice are much better if he engages a fee-for-service financial planner.

Planners of this variety consider all aspects of your financial situation in exchange for a flat or hourly fee. No products are sold, a point that addresses the reason why many people don’t want to deal with brokers and banks. They want objective advice and that’s not always what you get when you deal with someone who is compensated through the sale of investments.

Some fee-for-service planners will set up and manage an investment portfolio, while others are not licensed to do so. However, they may be able to make a referral to an individual or firm who can handle investments (ask whether any referral fees are paid to the planner making the referral).

It sounds like there would be plenty for a fee-for-service planner to sink their teeth into while looking at the finances of this reader’s brother. What type of accounts should he use to invest his money and maximize returns? How much risk does he need to take on in his investments? How much money will he need to live on every year, and how long does he need the money to last?

Averse to dealing with a sales-oriented investment advice industry? The answer is simple – find someone who sells advice, not products.

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