Online financial advice: No appointment needed

(WXYZ) - When planning your financial future adds up to confusion, a little professional help can go a long way. But money management advice doesn't always come cheap.

Now, there's a new way to get financial first aid without landing you in the red. And you don't even need to make an appointment!

After Jeeves Murphy landed a new job, he needed some help tuning up his old 401-K.

Murphy says, "I wasn't putting any money towards it, so I wanted to do something with it.

Seeing a financial advisor didn't fit his schedule or budget, so Leeves turned to a new breed of money management web sites for advice.

Murphy, who uses FutureAdvisor , says "They were able to help me move it over into an IRA."
Until recently, Jeeves was part of the 78% of Americans without a financial advisor, with cost being cited as a major roadblock.

A growing number of web sites bank on changing that by providing personalized financial and investment advice at more affordable prices.

Jorge Padilla with the Financial Planning Association says most sites have no minimum asset requirement.

Jorge Padilla of Financial Planning Association says, "Now it is feasible for pretty much anybody that has saved up some money or has some financial resources to reach out."

Payment plans vary, but most sites offer free advice to start, followed by one flat fee, or a small monthly one.
All of them are registered with the securities and exchange commission and staffed with certified financial planners or registered investment advisors.

Padilla says, "They're qualified to review all your finances and put a plan together."

On sites like LearnVest , you work one-on-one with your very own CFP via phone, e-mail, or screen sharing.

Stephany Kirkpatrick of LearnVest says, "You can see a picture of your net worth and your financial progress day in and day out. That helps your financial planner push you in the right direction."

Other sites, like FutureAdvisor, use computer software to generate custom investment advice.

Bo Lu of FutureAdvisor says," FutureAdvisor's software is monitored continuously by a team of computer scientists and mathematicians here in house for algorithm correctness."

Padilla says that while these online tools can be helpful, you have to be able to put your trust in a program or person you've never met.

"We are humans. We get emotional and that's where talking to a live person makes a big difference," says Padilla.

The sites we spoke with say that since they don't receive commission, it simplifies the decision-making process.

Kirkpatrick says, "You also don't have to get dressed up fancy, you don't have to rush off to a meeting."

Jeeves feels FutureAdvisor, is one of his most valuable assets. "I think my financial portfolio has been achieving a lot of my investment goals."

The web sites we spoke with tell us that they utilize bank level online security and encryption to protect your personal information.

If you have your heart set on seeing someone in person, search FPAnet.org for an advisor who fits your needs and budget.

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