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This Web site contains a compilation of more than a thousand consumer finance  columns written by Tony Novak from the 1980s through 2006, updated and reformatted for maximum usefulness today.  New material was added after 2010.

Content is the opinion of the author and does not represent the position of any other person or entity. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.

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First time financial advice

originally posted: 11/22/2006  reposted: 2/18/2011 This post has not been recently reviewed or revised by the author and may be out of date. If you notice an error or are in doubt, please send a new question by email or ask for an update. Email

Q: I have not used an accountant or financial adviser before but want to find one for some tax planning before the year ends. How do I find a good one?

A: The most important part of a comprehensive financial adviser's job is in the area of tax planning. In the long run this makes the most difference to your net worth so it makes sense to make this a priority in your selection. Unfortunately most accountants and financial not well-trained in this area. But since this is the area you need help with first, it makes sense to address this specific need now so that this will continue to work in your favor over the long term. The nice thing about starting an adviser relationship with tax planning is that you can probably expect to recoup your costs immediately, probably many times over, with the resulting tax savings. Almost any adviser can help you fill out a tax return or choose a solid investment portfolio. The long term net differences in results from one adviser to another are not significant in these areas of practice. But finding a good tax adviser is more difficult simply because there are far fewer professionally trained tax advisers. See my article "Choosing a Financial Adviser" for a full plan on choosing and interviewing an adviser.


More resources:

article: "Choosing a Financial Adviser"