These common errors in picking a financial planner can be costly.

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Do your diligence when selecting someone to manage your money.

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The decisions a financial adviser makes can mean the difference between you retiring a millionaire — and not. But when choosing a financial adviser, experts say many people make costly mistakes. Here are some of the most common. (Use this tool to get matched with a planner who meets your needs.)

Mistake No. 1: You didn’t ask how your financial adviser was paid

“Generally, it’s best to work with fee-only advisers who will either charge you a fixed percentage of your assets under management or a flat fee for their services. If you’re working with an adviser who makes a commission on various investment products, that’s a red flag,” says Ismat Mangla, senior director of content at LendingTree. Some fee-only planners charge an hourly or annual fee, but most common is that they will charge a percentage of assets under management, meaning the adviser deducts their fee directly from the client’s account, based on the account balance.

Note that a fee-only and fee-based planner are not the same thing, as MarketWatch Picks explains here: “A fee-based planner works off commissions and may have an incentive to recommend or prioritize a product above other actions or items in your plan, such as saving for a rainy day. A fee-only planner gets paid solely on what you pay them for their time, strategy, and money management.”

Mistake No. 2: You worked with a “free” adviser

If an adviser offers you free advice and services, they must be getting paid in other ways, says Bobbi Rebell, a certified financial planner and personal finance expert at debt management app Tally. “That in and of itself is not a problem, but it can influence the advice they give to you,” says Rebell. If they’re earning a commission on a product they’re selling to their client, it’s unclear whether they’re recommending it because they’re making money from it or because they actually think it’s beneficial for the client. Mangla adds, “You want to make sure the financial adviser you choose is a fiduciary, someone who has a legal and ethical duty to act in their clients’ best interest.” Advisers that work for “free” often don’t. To check if a financial adviser is a fiduciary, visit the site or the SEC adviser database.

Mistake No. 3: You didn’t shop around

You want to make sure you feel comfortable with an adviser and fully understand and vet their credentials. For this reason, it’s important to shop around, interview different candidates and see which personality you have the best connection with. “Start by looking for recommendations from people you trust and do your due diligence in vetting them,” says Mangla.  (Use this tool to get matched with a planner who meets your needs.)

Mistake No. 4: You didn’t clarify your goals and expectations with the adviser

This is common mistake people make, says Arielle Jacobs-Bittoni, a financial planner at Refresh Investments. Make it known what your short- and long-term goals are and how often and via what method you’re anticipating communicating with your adviser. And Mangla says you should have a clear idea of what you need help with. “It’s important to first think about the goals you want to accomplish with a financial adviser — do you want investment advice? Help with debt management or tax planning?,” says Mangla. 

Mistake No. 5: You didn’t check an adviser’s credentials or background

“There are many ways to vet a prospective adviser’s background, such as CFP Verify and FINRA’s Brokercheck. You can ensure an adviser has the credentials they advertise, look into their years of experience, which firms and when they passed their licensing exams,” says Tiffany Lam-Balfour, investing spokesperson for NerdWallet. You can also see if they’ve been the subject of customer complaints in the past.

Mistake No. 6: You didn’t ensure their investment and planning philosophy matched your own

“Determine if the adviser’s investment philosophy matches your own,” says Jacobs-Bittoni. Grace S. Yung, a certified financial planner at Midtown Financial Group, says a good tip is to make sure you look at the three Ps — “The people, their philosophy and the performance. What I mean by this is you should never hire someone just because your buddy says they gave them good returns or performance. Performance can come and go and is only one aspect of the relationship between you and your adviser. You should also make sure you click with the adviser and that you agree with their philosophy in investing and in life planning,” says Yung.

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Alisa Wolfson is a personal-finance columnist for MarketWatch.