How to Find a Professional Retirement Planner in the Bay Area

A professional retirement planner can help give you confidence and clarity on your journey to pursuing your financial goals.

Don’t have financial goals, or only have a rough outline of what you want them to be? No problem – the right planner will take you through a holistic approach to developing your goals, then create and implement an investment plan to pursue those goals.

Live near Newark, Fremont, or Union City, California? Use this guide to find a retirement planner near you!

An Objective Interview Process

When you’re hiring someone to manage your family’s wealth and plan your financial future, this process should not be taken lightly.

Finding the right financial advisor with the right skill sets for your situation is critically important. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when hiring a retirement planner is failing to interview multiple candidates. During an interview, you can determine if the retirement planner is the right fit for you based on their investment style, business practices (how they are compensated and any compliance issues), qualifications, and credentials.

Although you may not know how best to plan for your future, following this 4-step guide will help you identify essential qualifications in a retirement planner. After interviewing several advisors, you should have developed your own set of pertinent questions that expand on this list.

It’s never too early or late to start planning for your retirement. Start planning today for your tomorrow. 

Chapter 1

Find Out If They Follow a Fiduciary Standard

A financial fiduciary is ethically bound to always act in their client’s best interest. That includes placing their clients’ interests ahead of their own.

Fee-only advisors are obligated to follow the fiduciary standard. They provide you with ongoing services for a fee vs. receiving a commission.

On the other hand, fee-based or commission-based advisors must only meet the suitability standard, which requires that investments be suitable to the investor’s circumstances. This can leave significant room for interpretation.

Chapter 2

Get a Written Explanation of How They’re Compensated

One of the most important factors when choosing a financial advisor is how they are compensated. It’s one of the quickest and surest ways to determine upfront if their goals will be aligned with yours.

Furthermore, if you don’t know the cost, how could you determine if the value of the service provided is worth the money? We know the cost of everything before we pay – why should financial services be any different?

Questions like “How are you getting paid?”, “What are my total costs involved from working with you?” and “Do you earn commissions?” are up to you to ask. Good financial advisors will make this information clear and readily available. If they don’t, this should be considered a red flag. Your financial planner should be a steward of your money.

Financial advisors are paid in three ways: Fee-only, commission-based, and fee-based. Fee-only advisors charge an hourly, annual (assets under management), or a flat fee. Commission-based advisors are paid from the investments they sell. Fee-based advisors can earn fees through a combination of the two.


Typically, fee-only advisors will charge a percentage of assets under management (AUM. Most fee schedules are on a sliding scale, meaning the greater the number of assets, the lower your percentage fee. The advisor will deduct their fee from your balance monthly or quarterly.


On the other hand, Commission-based advisors are paid based on the investment recommendations they make, and you accept.

Commission-based advisors may not be in business long if they’re always working against their clients’ interests. Financial planning is a referral-based business – advisors get more business when their clients are doing well and like them. Therefore, an advisor who sells bad, expensive products might be profitable in the short run, but the client churn can prove this a terrible business model.


Fee-based advisors can get paid both a set fee and commissions based on investment selections.

Many of these firms are registered as fiduciaries and broker-dealers, sometimes acting as fiduciary and other times selling products based on a commission. If it’s important to you that they be a fiduciary, be sure to ask how the advisor is compensating for servicing your account.

Chapter 3

Ask How They Will Provide Services to You

Most retirement planners follow a process that looks something like this: An introductory meeting, a new client meeting, and an implementation meeting, followed by recurring follow-ups.

In the introductory and new client meetings, advisors will provide information on their firm, structure, and process and garner information from you about your situation and financial goals. If it’s a fit, accounts will be transferred, and the next stage will begin: Implementation. This includes delivering financial plans and executing the predetermined investment selections.

All of this may happen within the first month or two once you have hired the financial professional. Now what?

Your advisor should be scheduling ongoing service and advice in the form of regular meetings (annually, semi-annually, or quarterly) either in person or over the phone. If there is extreme volatility in the market, your retirement planner will more than likely be in touch on a regular basis to review your portfolio’s weather ability.

Above all this, a financial professional should be a phone call or an email away.

Chapter 4

Ask How They Develop Plans to Address Unknown Events

Retirement planners can certainly distinguish themselves in times of uncertainty. Uncertainty in the form of general market/economic conditions and, more importantly, personal life transitions.

What happens if we outlive our money? What happens if you outlive your spouse? What if we lose our income? Do we have enough money to retire? Can you afford to pay for your kids’ or grandkids’ college?

Any of these situations could drastically impact your financial situation and your financial goals, and each situation is different.

Trying to navigate a life transition alone can be extremely overwhelming, not to mention complex. The right retirement planner will be your trusted guide, providing empathy, perspective, and expertise during this tumultuous time. The reduction in stress alone is worth its weight in gold.

Budgeting, Social Security and Medicare benefits, investment adjustments, unexpected inheritances, healthcare costs, and tax-efficiencies are what good advisors do every day to help people like you reach their specific goals faster and with greater confidence. Anytime something in your life changes, your advisor will be ready to adapt your plan.

Further Thoughts

Life is about more than money. The right financial advisor will be the one who helps youthink as infrequently about it as you like. To do this, you need a plan that will be ready for whatever life throws at you. That requires a holistic and comprehensive approach to financial planning.

At Humanity Wealth Advisors, our mission is to coach you through following your biggest financial ambitions. Our relationship is never transactional – we see you for who you are, what your goals are, and what your situation is. After more than 20 years of financial planning experience, we can help you close the gap between your reality and your dreams.

We offer investment strategies tailored to your needs and risks, a transparent fee structure, technological solutions to give you greater oversight over your portfolio, and a fiduciary focus always to put your interests ahead of our own.

Looking for an experienced retirement planner in Newark, CA? Look no further…