The word you should be hearing and thinking about when it comes to financial planning or investing is FIDUCIARY. This is a difficult word, so it's not much used by the media, but it's much more important than terms they do use often, like 'fee-only'.
'Fiduciary' is also a word you will never hear spoken on Wall Street - to those guys it's like Kryptonite. Until the court case Financial Planning Association v. SEC, March 2007, brokers for Wall Street firms had an exemption from the consumer protections of the Investment Advisors Act of 1940, allowing them to offer advice without full disclosure or fiduciary duty. They were able to avoid mentioning pesky details like the conflict of selling proprietary products with ridiculously high sales charges (loads) and disclosing for whom they were actually working - their employer, not you!
You want your investment advisor to have the "duty of care of a fiduciary," which includes:
Putting the clients’ best interests...