Financial advisor… financial planner… apples to apples, right? Wrong! There is actually a big difference between the two, despite sharing the term “financial.” A financial advisor might be any of the following: an insurance broker, a stock broker, a registered investment advisor, or even perhaps a financial planner. Many “FAs” are compensated when their clients purchase specific investments. Financial planners, on the other hand, provide services. They create detailed strategies to help their clients achieve specific goals. Oftentimes, these strategies encompass cash flow management, education planning, retirement planning, investment planning, risk management and insurance planning, tax planning, estate planning, and business succession planning. To find out how to choose a good financial planner, I suggest you read an editorial called “Hiring a financial planner” (page 131) by Carol Tice in the April 2012 edition of Alaska Airlines Magazine. I think that Tice does a marvelous job outlining the qualities of a first-rate financial planner and explaining what the planning process usually entails.