Ask the Experts: Part 11 of Financial Considerations When You Lose Your Spouse

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

You both had areas of expertise. He alone could get that shed door unlocked. But you were the only one who could find the key. It’s great to have expert help when you need it. In our series on how to manage finances after the death of a spouse, we’re exploring tips from FINRA, a reliable financial source. Today, Tip 11: Expert Help.

When you’re trying to get help with money matters, it can be hard even to figure out what type of expert you need. The job titles can be confusing, and the certifications meaningless to you. Even within the financial world, you’ll find the term being used interchangeably with investment advisor and financial planner. You might also see the titles broker, asset manager, financial consultant or wealth manager. What do all these titles really mean?

The type of advice they give makes a difference

One way to distinguish among all of these titles is based on what type of advice the person charges for. If people charge money for the investing advice they give, they must hold certain registrations and adhere to the necessary regulations. If they sell investment products for a fee or commission, they are financial advisors who need to register with a separate regulatory body. On the other hand, financial planners, who are paid for the advice they give on budgeting and financial planning, but not on how to actually invest, do not have to register.

Any of these professionals might be referred to as financial advisors. You’ll need to dig deeper into their credentials, registrations and regulators to understand which, if any, of the other titles these professionals hold. It makes sense that there is more regulation for a financial advisor, who is actually directing where your dollars get invested and thus could end up losing you money, than there is for a financial planner, who is giving financial advice but not actually moving your money around.