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How to Get the Most Out of Your Financial Adviser

Aside from managing your money, what services, access should you expect?

For those with assets of less than $250,000, the monthly fee is $129. Each option provides clients with two reviews a year, quarterly reports, professional rebalancing of funds, and video updates, among other things.

One thing that's not included: face-to-face service.

Experts say that in general, high net worth retirees and pre-retirees with sizeable portfolios — typically $1 million or more — are the clients who primarily get "high touch" service. That means more frequent in-person meetings, usually twice a year or so, along with routine phone calls that may include key members of the investor's financial advisory team.

These well-heeled individuals, advisers say, have more complex finances that require a lot more account analysis, tax issues, coordination with attorneys and other professionals, as well as higher-level financial planning.

"For the majority of individuals that have money in IRAs and who are still in the asset accumulation phase, they just need good guidance and basic coordination," Cortazzo says.

Morrison, the CFP based in Lincoln Park, N.J., agrees.

"I don't want my clients looking at their investments quarterly, as investing is a long-term endeavor," she says. "So unless there are planning opportunities or situations, I do not meet quarterly, on a face-to-face basis."

If you're shopping around for a financial planner, advisers say that fees of $150 to $250 an hour is a good benchmark. Several experts recommended the Garrett Network or NAPFA, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, to find fee-only advisors within this price point.

A fee-only planner that charges you 1 percent to 1.5 percent of the assets she's managing for you is competitive, experts said. If you can get less than 1 percent, that's even better. But for fees in the 2 percent range, that adviser had better be delivering exceptional value and service — otherwise he's overpriced.

Ultimately, Cortazzo says, "You need to feel comfortable and confident with the person. But you need to get a sense that the person really cares about you and your success and that they're structuring how they work with you to align your interest with theirs."

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