The financial events of 2008 brought home to many investors the importance of sound financial advice. The aftermath of the market decline felt by many investors created what can best be described as a crisis of confidence. Shaken by the events in the broader financial world, today's more timid investors are looking to reduce their anxiety and adopt a course toward retirement security that is soundly based.

If you are searching for a financial advisor, here are a few common-sense considerations that may inform your selection.

When you choose a financial advisor, you should look for an experienced professional who cannot only be relied on but with whom you can talk openly about your long-term plans. You should discuss your expectations openly at the outset of your relationship, and the financial advisor can discuss what you should expect from a relationship with him or her as well.

How often will your advisor call or meet with you? How will the advisor help you select investments for your account? What communications will you receive each quarter? These and other expectations - such as fees and expenses - should be reviewed at the outset of your relationship.

There are a number of ways to establish a relationship with a financial professional. The process begins with deciding whether to enter into a brokerage or advisory relationship, which will determine how your account will be handled, as well as the pricing arrangement - that is, fee or commission - your financial advisor will propose.

In today's fast-paced financial world, a financial professional can monitor the markets and stay on top of emerging investment opportunities. A financial professional can offer professional knowledge that do-it-yourself investors may not possess. At the same time, you should understand the role your financial advisor will have in making changes in your account.

As the financial industry has grown in size and complexity, financial professionals' role and responsibilities have expanded as well. Financial advisors have varying qualifications. It is important to understand the credentials and experience of each professional in order to select one with whom you are most compatible and who is most suitable for your specific needs.

A financial advisor may have pursued professional educational opportunities in order to achieve specialized designation in fields such as retirement, investment management, financial planning or advisory products. Prerequisites and education requirements vary widely for each industry designation, and it is useful to familiarize yourself with these credentials. Some designations are awarded after passing a certification exam and may require continuing professional education.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) offers a free service to investors on its public website where you can research the background of any currently registered securities broker. You can check the background of a financial professional by visiting or by calling FINRA directly at 800-289-9999.

• William J. Hertzog, CIMA, is first vice president of investments for Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, in Ahwatukee. Reach him at (602) 952-5133 or Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. Note: Investment and insurance products are not FDIC insured, not bank guaranteed and may lose value.