A financial advisor is a valuable asset to have when you want to improve your finances or make important financial decisions such as investing. But when you get free financial planning advice, usually from an online source, it can be difficult to expect too much. Since the advice is given for free, the advisor does not have any form of responsibility towards you on how you use the information given. As opposed to hiring your own financial advisor wherein they are committed to helping you succeed with your financial goals, you do not have that same level of expectations when soliciting free advice.
Therefore, the responsibility weighs upon you to evaluate the free financial planning advice you get. Do take every advice with a grain of salt. This will ensure that you can get substantial advice that can help improve your finances and not cause it to fall into a mess.
Check the Qualifications
When you get advice from a so-called professional financial advisor, always verify their qualifications by doing your own research. It is possible that you found out about a particular free financial advice consultation because you read about it on a website. What kind of website is this? Is this a reputable website? Is the website or company affiliated with that website considered an authority in the finance industry? A well-reputed company or website would not associate themselves with professionals with a less than stellar qualification. Therefore, they offer free advice consultation for individuals with the help of a qualified professional.
In some cases, the website will also provide a detailed list of qualifications for the invited financial advisor. You can therefore take advantage of this opportunity to get the financial advice you need without paying for a professional.
Is There Conflict of Interest?
When doing a background check of the professional that offers free financial planning advice, check if they are affiliated with certain investment companies or insurance products. If they are, you have to be very careful about the advice they give. Make sure you evaluate it from an objective point of view rather than trying to sell you products from the company they are working for. You have to make sure that they provide valuable insight rather than making recommendations to you.
Is it Generic or Tailored To You?
This is one of the most important things to consider when getting financial advice online. Not all financial situations are the same. Therefore, it is important that the financial advisor tailor the advice based on your specific situation. If it is a one-step-fits-all approach, you might not get much out of it. One way to determine if their financial advice is tailored to fit your needs is if they ask questions about your current financial situation before they give advice. If they skip that part, how are they supposed to give financial advice that is fit to your unique situation and needs?
Getting free financial advice is a good thing; but not all free things are actually free. You need to look at it in a broader perspective: is there a motive behind the free advice? Is it designed to influence your decision or meant to improve your situation?