Where Can I Find Middle-Class Financial Advice?

How to Find Affordable Financial AdviceHow to Find Affordable Financial AdviceBy: Benjamin Gran

"Failure to plan is planning to fail," but many middle-class families struggle to get solid financial planning advice. The reason is that the financial planning profession is not well-suited to the needs of most middle-class families.

Simply put, most financial advisers serve people who already have lots of money. If you're not wealthy, it can be hard to get objective, unbiased financial advice about your total financial picture. It can also be difficult to put together a financial plan on your own.

Here are some reasons why it is hard for non-wealthy people to get good financial advice:

Lack of Understanding


Financial advisory firms and middle-class investors usually don't understand each other, according to a recent study, "Barriers to Financial Advice for Non-Affluent Consumers." Most financial advisors are used to dealing with high-earning, high-net-worth people who are savvy about money and investments, and who have enough money to manage so that the financial advisor can make a good profit.

In fact, 80 percent of financial advisors define their core market as clients with assets of $250,000 or more, and half of those advisers focus only on clients with $1 million or more, according Kiplinger. These financial advisors often don't have the time or inclination to reach out to the non-affluent market, or they don't know how to make a profit by offering advice to people with more modest amounts of money to invest.

Lack of Trust


Another factor cited in the study on Barriers to Financial Advice is that many middle-class people don't trust financial advisors. The recent housing market crash, economic slump and dizzying plunge in the stock market during 2008 and 2009 have caused many middle-class families to take a dim view of the financial profession as a whole. Others are skeptical of so-called "financial advisors," who are really just salesmen offering particular stocks or investment options.

While it's good to be skeptical and to protect your interests, too much distrust can be self-defeating. Good financial advisors can help a family achieve a sounder financial foundation and develop smarter savings plans for the future.

So where is a middle-class family supposed to turn for financial advice?

Ask about It at Work


Depending on who administers your company's 401(k) plan, you might be able to get some solid financial advice for free as part of your work benefits. According to Kiplinger, Principal Financial Group offers individual counseling sessions with employees of companies who offer Principal 401(k) plans, with a wide range of financial advice available, including how to get out of debt, how to save for college, and how to know whether you're on track for a comfortable retirement. Many of Charles Schwab's retirement plan sponsors offer access to investment advisers as well.

Programs like these can give you a good chance to sit down and discuss your overall financial picture with a trained adviser who can help you understand the details and make adjustments as needed.

Find Help on your Own


It is possible to find a financial planner who serves less affluent clients. If you want to find a fee-based financial adviser, try looking for someone who is listed on MyFinancialAdvice.com, the Garrett Planning Network, or the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

The advantage of fee-based financial advisers is that they only work on an hourly-fee basis, which many experts recommend as a more objective, unbiased model of financial advisory services. A fee-based adviser has no potential conflicts of interest in offering you any investment recommendations, and you'll be paying only for advice - you won't get a sales pitch for insurance or other financial products.

Whether you have $250,000 in investable assets or $25 hidden in your couch cushions, Quizzle.com offers great tools and resources to improve your personal finances. With Quizzle, you can improve your credit, save money on your home loan, and make better-informed financial choices for a more prosperous financial future.

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