But how do you find the right one? You can start by asking the right questions. Here are a few to consider:

Have you worked with people in my situation? - As an investor, you have your own special set of characteristics: level of assets, stage of life, long-term goals, etc. Before you sign up to work with a financial advisor, you need to make sure that he or she is comfortable working with someone like you.

What are your credentials? - Inquire about a prospective advisor's qualifications. Make sure anyone you might work with has all the necessary securities licenses.

What is your investment philosophy? - Just like investors, financial advisors have different investment personalities. Some might be naturally more aggressive, while others are conservative. But the ideal advisor is someone who will provide you with guidance that's based on your risk tolerance and investment preferences.

How will you communicate with me? - You'll want to make sure that your financial advisor will communicate regularly with you. Find out when you'll receive statements and how often you'll meet in person to review your portfolio. Will your financial advisor call with suggestions and recommendations? Are you free to contact him or her at any time? It's important to find these things out as soon as possible. Remember, you're entrusting this person with your financial future - so you have a right to expect open, honest and frequent communications.

What sort of resources do you have to draw on? - Find out if a prospective investment professional has access to quality research and technical expertise in key areas, such as investments, insurance and estate planning. In some cases, a financial advisor may be able to bring in added expertise through a relationship with another professional, such as an attorney or accountant.

How do you get paid? - Investment professionals get paid in a variety of ways: fees, commissions, percentage of assets under management, or even a combination of these. You do need to know, right from the start, how your financial advisor is getting compensated.

Can you provide me with references? - A lot of people are too shy to ask for references. However, a reputable financial advisor will be happy to give you some names of people you can call. Of course, you shouldn't expect a financial professional to provide you with the specifics of other clients' financial transactions. But you should be free to ask about a financial advisor's style, responsiveness, etc.

You may need to interview several candidates before you find a suitable financial advisor. But it's worth the effort. Making the right choice today can pay off far into the future.