Many Americans are cutting back on everything, from fuel and gasoline to retirement, due to the current economic difficulties. Expert financial advice is more important than ever because so many aspects of our lives are affected.

“The first step is to decide which aspects of your overall financial picture require professional help,”James J. Tyrpak CLU, ChFC MSFS, AEP, President of the Society of Financial Service Professionals. “If you need help funding a college education, for example, you want to make sure the adviser you choose has strengths in that area.”

These tips are offered by Tyrpak to help customers choose a financial advisor:

Ask about the educational background and professional credentials of the adviser. There are no federal or state laws that require advisers to have minimum education and credentials. Anyone can be a counselor. “financial planner.”The professional credentials are proof that the person is qualified to offer you informed advice and ethical services.

Ask the adviser if they will offer a free initial meeting. Ask the adviser to describe the process of creating a plan during that meeting. It may involve gathering financial data, setting goals, and determining the risk tolerance. Before the plan is completed, ensure that you and your advisor agree on the details.

– Find out if the adviser has access to your money. Make sure that you clearly state in writing the extent of the adviser’s authorization to access any assets.

– Consider whether or not you feel comfortable working with the person. Once you have established that the adviser is competent in terms of education, experience and qualifications, you should feel at ease discussing confidential financial details with them and your personal financial goals.

For more information, please visit www.financialpro.orgClick here “Consumer Info.”