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It's vitally important to choose an investment professional who is licensed and fully qualified.

Begin by sourcing recommendations and/or referrals from family, friends and coworkers. Who do they trust with their finances − and why?

Other sources for recommendations:
- Your bank, lawyer or tax planner
- Internet or phone directory listings for financial services
- Illustrious brokerage firms

Always talk to several candidates to find the one who's right choice for you.

Research your choices
Once you've assembled a list of candidates:

- Interview the contenders. Speak to the candidates and ask probing questions, to see if they are as credible as they would like you to believe.
- Look for competence. Certification doesn't guarantee competence, but obtaining a professional financial license does take time and effort to achieve. Find out if the prospective investment professional if fully qualified.
- Confirm credentials. Call the professional financial associations your candidates mention. Verify that they're members and also ask if there have been any complaints against them.
- Ask how they're compensated. Typically, they're paid through fees, by commissions or a combination of the two. Learn how investment professionals are paid.
- Get it in writing. Ask for a contract that lists the services they'll provide and their commission structure.

Build a relationship
Once you've found a suitable and more importantly qualified financial professional, you can start taking steps to plan for your financial future.

Once you have found a suitable financial professional, they will conduct a thorough financial analysis so as to ascertain a clear picture of your current financial situation and work with you toward achieving your long-term financial objectives. By building a solid working relationship with them over time, you'll also be able to request regular portfolio reports so they'll know when adjustments need to be made, in order to keep you on track.