When it comes to your finances, proper planning is essential. If you don’t come up with a solid plan for how to invest and save your money, you will never find the financial security that you crave.

If you are like most people, you probably weren’t born knowing how to effectively manage your money. Even worse, most high schools don’t provide students with guidance on how to deal with money issues in the real world. That means that you may not be prepared to plan for things like buying a home, having children, sending your kids to school, or retiring from work.

All hope is not lost, however, instead all that you need to do to get a grip on your finances is to work with a financial planner. These professionals are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to how best to manage your money. They can help you come up with a plan that allows you to achieve all of your dreams, no matter how much or how little money you make.

The following guide outlines all of the most important characteristics that you should consider when looking for a financial advisor:

1. Qualifications. Find out what kind of education the financial advisor has. Additionally, ask them what they do to stay up to date with all of the latest information in their field. Like any other industry, the world of financial planning is continually changing. If you want your financial advisor to be as effective as possible, they should take classes and attend conferences to stay current with what is happening right now.

2. Experience. The more you practice something, the better you get at it. That is why people spend time practicing when they are learning an instrument or playing sports. The same concept holds true for any profession. The longer someone has been doing their job, the better they are at it. Working with an experienced financial advisor can help you get great results.

3. Specialization. If you have specific financial issues that you want to focus on, you may want to look for an advisor who specializes in those types of issues. For instance, if you are interested in retirement planning, try to find an advisor that spends the vast majority of their time working on those types of issues.

4. Reputation. It can be hard to tell whether or not someone is good at their job just by reading their credentials. One way around this problem is to read reviews from some of their clients. You should be able to find reviews of just about any financial advisor that you are interested in working with on the internet.

A financial planner can sit down with you to develop a long term plan that will help you get the most out of your money. Regardless of what your financial goals are, they can help you determine how best to meet them. Just remember, anytime your finances are involved, you should carefully research the person you are planning to work with to make sure that they are knowledgeable, experienced and honest.