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Baltimore Five Star award winner

How to Find a Financial Adviser You Can Trust

You are an expert in your field, but chances are you do not have expertise when it comes to money. Millions of men and women find themselves in this same boat, wondering how to save for the future, put their kids through college and create a comfortable retirement for themselves and their spouse.

You are an expert in your field, but chances are you do not have expertise when it comes to money. Millions of men and women find themselves in this same boat, wondering how to save for the future, put their kids through college and create a comfortable retirement for themselves and their spouse.

Talk About Your Financial Goals

Before you can find the right financial adviser, you need to think about what you are looking for and why you need the guidance in the first place. Your first meeting with the financial adviser should include a detailed discussion of your goals - and what you hope to achieve by seeking professional help.

Write down a list of your most important financial goals and share them with every financial adviser you interview. Those goals can be anything that is important to you, from starting a retirement plan at work to setting up a college fund for the kids to paying off the mortgage on your home. The most important thing is that these goals are important to you. Sharing these goals with the financial adviser you are interviewing is a key part of the selection process.

Look for Someone Who Shares Your Value

Everyone has different values when it comes to money, and it is impossible to separate finances from the bigger picture. That is why it is so important to choose a financial professional who shares your values, at least where money in concerned.

You and your financial adviser do not have to agree politically or socially - in fact investing with politics in mind is almost always a bad idea. What you are looking for is a shared connection and a shared set of values, something you can build a long-term relationship on.

Focus on Where You Are in Life

Your financial needs and priorities do not stay the same - they change and evolve over time. When you are young and unattached, you may be solely focused on building your career and enhancing your earning power. As you get older and start to settle down, your priorities may shift to buying a home and protecting your growing family. As you get closer to retirement, you may focus more on building a solid nest egg.

No matter what your current goals, it is important to work with a financial adviser who is willing to focus on where you are in life. A financial adviser who works exclusively with high net worth clients may not have the time or the inclination to guide a new investor, while one who welcomes unsophisticated investors may not offer the kinds of products wealthy individuals are looking for. By matching your place in life with the financial planning firm, you can maximize the value while avoiding unforeseen problems down the line.

Finding the right financial professional is not always an easy thing to do, but it is important to get this decision right. When you need help with your investments, you need a professional you can trust, and it all starts with seeking out an adviser who understands and appreciates your values, one who is willing to work with you through every aspect of your financial life.

This award was issued on 1/1/24 by Five Star Professional (FSP) for the time period 4/10/23 through 10/31/23. Fee paid for use of marketing materials. Self-completed questionnaire was used for rating. This rating is not related to the quality of the investment advice and based solely on the disclosed criteria. 2,126 Baltimore-area wealth managers were considered for the award; 256 (12% of candidates) were named 2023 Five Star Wealth Managers. The following prior year statistics use this format: YEAR: # Considered, # Winners, % of candidates, Issued Date, Research Period. 2023: 2126, 256, 12%, 1/1/23, 4/18/22 - 10/21/22; 2022: 2078, 260, 13%, 1/1/22, 5/10/21 - 11/12/21; 2029, 237, 12%, 1/1/21, 4/27/20 - 10/30/20; 2020: 1898, 234, 12%, 1/1/20, 4/1/19 - 11/13/19; 2019: 1865, 265, 14%, 1/1/19, 4/19/18 - 11/7/18; 2018: 1759, 232, 13%, 1/1/18, 4/21/17 - 11/6/17; 2017: 1093, 355, 32%, 12/1/16, 3/26/16 - 11/11/16; 2016: 1215, 356, 29%, 12/1/15, 6/16/15 - 11/9/15; 2015: 1749, 412, 24%, 1/1/15, 6/16/14 - 11/9/14; 2014: 1484, 395, 27%, 1/1/14, 6/16/13 - 11/9/13; 2013: 1490, 448, 30%, 1/1/13, 6/16/12 - 11/9/12; 2012: 1470, 262, 18%, 1/1/12, 6/16/11 - 11/9/11.
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Sarah Santeufemio is a registered representative of and offers securities and investment advisory services through MML Investors Services, LLC. Member SIPC (https://www.sipc.org/). Statera Retirement is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC or its affiliated companies.

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The Five Star Wealth Manager award, administered by Crescendo Business Services, LLC (dba Five Star Professional), is based on 10 objective criteria. Eligibility criteria – required: 1. Credentialed as a registered investment adviser or a registered investment adviser representative; 2. Actively licensed as a registered investment adviser or as a principal of a registered investment adviser firm for a minimum of 5 years; 3. Favorable regulatory and complaint history review (As defined by Five Star Professional, the wealth manager has not; A. Been subject to a regulatory action that resulted in a license being suspended or revoked, or payment of a fine; B. Had more than a total of three settled or pending complaints filed against them and/or a total of five settled, pending, dismissed or denied complaints with any regulatory authority or Five Star Professional’s consumer complaint process. Unfavorable feedback may have been discovered through a check of complaints registered with a regulatory authority or complaints registered through Five Star Professional’s consumer complaint process; feedback may not be representative of any one client’s experience; C. Individually contributed to a financial settlement of a customer complaint; D. Filed for personal bankruptcy within the past 11 years; E. Been terminated from a financial services firm within the past 11 years; F. Been convicted of a felony); 4. Fulfilled their firm review based on internal standards; 5. Accepting new clients. Evaluation criteria – considered: 6. One-year client retention rate; 7. Five-year client retention rate; 8. Non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered; 9. Number of client households served; 10. Education and professional designations. Wealth managers do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of Five Star Wealth Managers. Award does not evaluate quality of services provided to clients. Once awarded, wealth managers may purchase additional profile ad space or promotional products. The Five Star award is not indicative of the wealth manager’s future performance. Wealth managers may or may not use discretion in their practice and therefore may not manage their client’s assets. The inclusion of a wealth manager on the Five Star Wealth Manager list should not be construed as an endorsement of the wealth manager by Five Star Professional or this publication. Working with a Five Star Wealth Manager or any wealth manager is no guarantee as to future investment success, nor is there any guarantee that the selected wealth managers will be awarded this accomplishment by Five Star Professional in the future. For more information on the Five Star award and the research/selection methodology, go to fivestarprofessional.com. 2,078 Baltimore-area wealth managers were considered for the award; 260 (8% of candidates) were named 2022 Five Star Wealth Managers. 2021: 2,029 considered, 237 winners; 2020: 1,898 considered, 234 winners; 2019: 1,865 considered, 265 winners; 2018: 1,759 considered, 232 winners; 2017: 1,093 considered, 355 winners; 2016: 1,215 considered, 356 winners; 2015: 1,749 considered, 412 winners; 2014: 1,484 considered, 395 winners; 2013: 1,490 considered, 448 winners; 2012: 1,470 considered, 262 winners.

*Winners appearing on this page do not pay a fee to be considered or to win the Five Star Award. Professionals with a digital profile have paid a promotional fee.
Wealth managers do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of Five Star Wealth Managers. The award is based on 10 objective criteria. Eligibility criteria - required: 1. Credentialed as a registered investment adviser (RIA) or a registered investment adviser representative; 2. Actively licensed as a RIA or as a principal of a registered investment adviser firm for a minimum of 5 years; 3. Favorable regulatory and complaint history review (As defined by FSP, the wealth manager has not; A. Been subject to a regulatory action that resulted in a license being suspended or revoked, or payment of a fine; B. Had more than a total of three settled or pending complaints filed against them and/or a total of five settled, pending, dismissed or denied complaints with any regulatory authority or FSP's consumer complaint process. Unfavorable feedback may have been discovered through a check of complaints registered with a regulatory authority or complaints registered through FSP's consumer complaint process; feedback may not be representative of any one client's experience; C. Individually contributed to a financial settlement of a customer complaint; D. Filed for personal bankruptcy within the past 11 years; E. Been terminated from a financial services firm within the past 11 years; F. Been convicted of a felony); 4. Fulfilled their firm review based on internal standards; 5. Accepting new clients. Evaluation criteria - considered: 6. One-year client retention rate; 7. Five-year client retention rate; 8. Non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered; 9. Number of client households served; 10. Education and professional designations. FSP does not evaluate quality of services provided to clients. The award is not indicative of the wealth manager's future performance. Wealth managers may or may not use discretion in their practice and therefore may not manage their clients' assets. The inclusion of a wealth manager on the Five Star Wealth Manager list should not be construed as an endorsement of the wealth manager by FSP or this publication. Working with a Five Star Wealth Manager or any wealth manager is no guarantee as to future investment success, nor is there any guarantee that the selected wealth managers will be awarded this accomplishment by FSP in the future. Visit www.fivestarprofessional.com.