Financial planning and investment advice

Properly defining and understanding your financial needs before you stop working is an important step toward a successful retirement. There are numerous titles for financial professionals: Broker, registered investment advisor, financial planner, insurance agent, investment advisor, and wealth managers, to name a few. However, there are legal definitions and standards associated with only two of those titles: brokers and investment advisors.

According to the American Association of Individual Investors, brokers are in the business of buying and selling securities at their clients’ direction. Investment advisors are in the business of providing investment advice and are often called registered investment advisors, or RIAs.

Regardless of which type of financial professional you choose, you will be paying for the advice you receive. Brokers are paid with commissions for completing your transactions. Investment advisors are paid through a fee-only structure. Their fees are most often based on a percent of “assets under management,” which is the total amount of assets on which the advisor provides advice. Another form of fee-only compensation is to charge an hourly fee, or an annual retainer.

Fee-only advisors are registered investment advisors with a fiduciary responsibility to act in their clients' best interest. These advisors are charging for their advice; their compensation does not depend upon the types of investments or any other product they may recommend. A listing of fee-only advisors can be found at

Some financial advisors act in both capacities. This is referred to as “fee based” instead of “fee only.” When providing advice for a fee (generally a flat amount for the initial planning), the advisor is acting as an RIA. Implementation of investment decisions may then be based on recommendation of commissioned products. For this activity, the advisor is acting as a broker.

Whichever type of provider you work with, always check on to confirm the person is licensed.

Learn More

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has tips on selecting a financial professional.

US News & World Report and The Wall Street Journal also have advice on “How to Choose a Financial Planner,” while AARP suggests “10 Ways to Get the Best Money Advice.”

The New Hampshire Bureau of Securities Regulation provides links to resources, tools and investment alerts.

The North American Securities Administrators Association, whose membership consists of governmental securities administrators in the U.S. and Canada (including NH), provides tools to help senior investors safeguard their retirement savings.

Disclaimer: This page is intended as an informational tool only. Links to third-party sites are provided as a service for our members and retirees. The links provided are not maintained by NHRS or affiliated with any services provided by the retirement system. We make no endorsement, express or implied, of the content or activities of any linked sites. Questions should be directed to the administrator(s) of each specific site.