Q: How can I find a financial adviser to meet with me once for advice as opposed to ongoing management that charges a percentage of my assets?


A: You can find planners willing to work with you to create a one-time detailed blueprint that can help you figure out where you are today financially and can act as a guidepost for the future.

Before starting your search, you will want to be clear about what you expect from the meeting with the planner and the document you are paying for. Ryan Antkowiak, certified planner at Baird Private Wealth Management, said among the questions he would ask are: "Why now? What has brought you here? What are you concerned about? What are you trying to accomplish?"

Armed with that knowledge, it will take time and effort to find a financial planner who is trustworthy, competent and comes at a reasonable cost. A good number probably won't be interested in creating a one-time financial plan, but not all. An industry problem is that almost anyone can call themselves a financial planner or adviser. In many cases their actual expertise is relatively narrow, say, with an emphasis on investing or insurance products. One way to cut through the thicket is to consult with a fee-only planner. The fee-only relationship minimizes conflicts of interest. Two of the better designations are certified financial planner (CFP) and CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst). Their personal-finance knowledge is broad.

You could check out the Garrett Planning Network. The Garrett planners are CFPs willing to keep the cost of their advice down by breaking down major financial questions into discrete tasks. The main website for finding fee-only financial planners is the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. The CFP Board offers a directory of CFP financial advisers. (But not all CFPs are fee-only.) You could also check out Wealthramp, a financial-planning referral service launched by Pam Krueger, co-host of the public television investor education series Money Track.

Another alternative is the DIY approach. There are electronic-planning platforms, with the best-known ESPlanner and ESPlannerPLUS. These are detailed personal financial-planning software programs.

Once you find a planner with the expertise and interest to work with you, you will need to gather a lot of data for the plan. It's a time-consuming process, since a plan is only as good as the data. But it's a worthwhile exercise.

Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor, "Marketplace," and Minnesota Public Radio.