As you may have seen in other articles, I suggest using a fee only financial advisor. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First of all, if you consult a financial advisor who offers his services at no cost, he or she will expect to earn compensation from commissions on products you will buy or invest in based on his or her recommendations. Those recommendations may be chosen for their ability to provide the advisor with an income rather than to provide you with a profitable investment.
Once you've received independent advice from a fee only financial advisor, it is ok to work with an advisor at your 401k or other service provider to make changes as long as you keep in mind what you learned from your independent advisor.
Your objective is to invest in products with low fees to maximize your earnings.
If any advisor recommends products with high fees or commissions, get a second opinion before taking that advice.
The second reason for consulting a fee only financial advisor is so that he or she is focused specifically on what you are interested in. You will negotiate a fee by describing what you need from the advisor.
You both will have work to do. Your job will be to inform your advisor about your current financial status as well as your future goals so that the advisor can map out a plan to get from here and now to the future you envision. Be prepared to provide details. For example, if you are asking for help with retirement planning, you will need to explain what your living expenses will be as well as what you want to do when you aren't working. This could be anything from a wide variety of choices: start your own business, travel for extended periods to other countries, purchase an RV to travel across country, etc.
These choices could have very different price tags.
Typical reports provided by your advisor might be a statement of net worth, projections of retirement income based on a savings plan, an assessment of your current portfolio, holdings, and expected contributions, to name a few.
Other aspects of planning that you will consider include life insurance, long term care insurance, health insurance, estate planning, for example.
The bottom line is: to get the most for your money, be prepared to actively participate in the information gathering process.
Depending on your age and your goals you may need to schedule checkpoint meetings with your fee only advisor every 5 years or so.
You may be asking if you really need to spend this kind of money when your service provider offers services for free.
In my experience, objectivity and increased knowledge are the most valuable results of a fee only consultation.
The "free" advisors at your service providers are most likely only familiar with their company's offerings, which may or may not be good choices for you.
In some cases (my bank, for example), their compensation varies according to the types of investments they get you into.
That's not objective, and it can cost you earnings which may exceed the cost of consulting a fee only financial advisor.