When Do I Need a Financial Planner?
DO I NEED A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ PROFESSIONAL?
Probably. There is a common misconception among people who believe that only high net worth individuals need a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional, which could not be further from the truth. Almost every single person can benefit from a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional whether you are a high net worth individual, just starting out on your financial journey, or simply in need of some guidance. Let’s discuss some of the MANY things that a financial planner can help you with.
WHAT IS A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional?
The Certified Financial Planner™ Professional credential is a formal recognition of expertise in the areas of taxes, insurance, investments, estate planning, employee benefits, retirement, and other areas of financial planning. This designation is voluntary, and is awarded to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board’s exam, experience, education, and ethical requirements and continue ongoing annual education programs to sustain and enhance their skills.
Certified Financial Planner™ Professionals must verify that they hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited university or college. A specific list of courses in financial planning must also be completed. A minimum of 3 years or 6,000 hours of full-time professional experience in the industry is required. In addition, all Certified Financial Planner™ Professionals must adhere to the CFP Board’s standards of professional conduct, and go through an extensive background check in order to receive this prestigious designation.
A Certified Financial Planner™ Professional is a fiduciary, meaning that he or she is ethically and legally bound to act in the client’s best interest.
WHAT DOES A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ PROFESSIONAL DO?
Where do I begin!? There are many people who call themselves “financial planners,” but only a select group of individuals have the Certified Financial Planner™ Professional designation, including myself. Different types of financial planners will do different things depending on their specialty and skillset. Some financial planners manage a portfolio of assets, while some don’t manage any money at all. While there are others who focus on comprehensive financial planning, and those who don’t actually do any planning.
Have you changed jobs recently or been laid off? What should you do with your previous employer’s 401K plan – maybe roll it over into an IRA, but what kind? Well, a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional can help to answer all of these kinds of questions for you. Sure, you may be able to Google the answers to some of these questions, but that can often be confusing and lead to even more questions. You’ll save a lot of time, frustration, and even money by working with someone with the knowledge and expertise to put you on the right financial track.
A Certified Financial Planner™ Professional can also serve as an accountability partner. Let’s say you and your Certified Financial Planner™ Professional come up with a comprehensive financial strategy for you to get out of debt, save a specific amount of money, and make a large purchase. This will of course result in action items for you as the client. If you know you have follow-up meetings with your Certified Financial Planner™ Professional to review the progress you’ve made, you’re likely going to make more of an effort to stay on track. Yes, of course you want to accomplish your goals for yourself. However, you also don’t want to show up at your next financial planning meeting and admit to your planner that you haven’t done any of your homework!
Let’s go back to that new job I mentioned above. Should you invest in your new employer’s 401K plan and if so, which investments should you choose? Is there an employer match? How long until you’re vested? How much do you need to save for retirement? If you’re offered stock options what are the possible tax consequences? Most of us without a financial background are not able to answer all of these questions. A Certified Financial Planner™ Professional however, will be able to develop a holistic financial plan that is best suited for your wants and needs.
What about insurance? What type of insurance should you get and how much? Do you even need insurance at all? Is a term life or universal life policy better? Who will your beneficiaries be? What will happen with your estate? I certainly didn’t know the answers to all of these questions before I became a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional. Now that I’ve been doing this for almost two decades, and have helped hundreds of people, I want to spread my knowledge and expertise to as many people as possible!
Do you have debt…student loans, credit cards, etc.? There are several different ways you can approach getting out of debt, while still paying your bills, and saving for your future.
Have you ever thought about what your risk profile is, or what that even means? Well when it comes to investing, we all have a risk profile that essentially helps us determine the level of risk we are comfortable with regarding how we invest our money. A Certified Financial Planner ™ Professional will be able to help assess this and invest your money accordingly.
QUESTIONS TO ASK A FINANCIAL PLANNER
How is your financial planner compensated? Some are commission-based, meaning that they profit from products they sell to you such as life insurance and annuities. Others are fee based, which is sort of a hybrid approach. They may make commission for selling you things like life insurance, but they also charge you a fee. Then there are fee only financial advisors, which is the category that I fall under. I have a fee only Registered Investment Advisory firm, where I do not sell insurance or annuities and I’m independent from any bank, brokerage firm or insurance company. There is no way for me to make commission from my clients. The only way I make money is by charging my clients a fee directly. The fees charged will be based on the types of services offered. In my case, I provide comprehensive holistic financial planning, investment management, and tax planning & preparation, just to name a few.
Is your financial planner a fiduciary? There are a lot of people out there calling themselves financial advisors or something to that effect: investment consultant, wealth manager, stockbroker, etc. Some have obtained licenses like life insurance or the stockbroker’s license. But keep in mind that they don’t all actually give financial advice. Many are very product focused (insurance and annuities) and they must sell in order to make a profit. Now, these products may be very beneficial to you, but they may not be. Every person and situation is different. When working with a fiduciary, he or she is bound both legally and ethically to put your interests above theirs. So, if working with a fiduciary, any product they may try to sell you has to be in your best interest, regardless of how much money they make off of it.
What qualifications does your financial planner have? Not everyone is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional, and that’s not necessarily a negative thing. But it’s important to keep in mind that this designation is one of the highest standards in the industry. There are additional voluntary designations that planners can also obtain such as a Chartered Financial Consultant™, or designations geared towards a specific specialty such as clients going through divorce or business owners looking to sell their businesses.
What is your planner’s typical client? There may be a planner who specializes in an area that you don’t necessarily fall under. Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work with that planner. But you want to understand this and ask questions to ensure you are both a good fit for each other. For example, I have clients of all ages, backgrounds, and income levels. However, my focus is geared more towards Millennials and Gen Xers.
Find out if your planner offers comprehensive financial planning. Some planners only do investment management, so this would not necessarily be a good match for you if you need more than just investment management.
If you are interested in working with a financial planner, and I highly recommend that you do, please check out my website www.BuildABetterFinancialFuture.com as I offer complimentary 30 minute calls to discuss your finances and understand how I may be of assistance to you. Also, you can check out the resources listed below:
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?
Listen to the On My Way To Wealth Podcast each week!
To schedule a FREE financial planning/investment management call with me, please visit my business website www.BuildaBetterFinancialFuture.com.
Want to receive my e-book with FREE money tips for Gen Xers?! Click here!
As always, thank you for checking out my podcast and blog post! If there are any topics you would like to learn more about, please email me at Luis@onmywaytowealth.com! All of my podcast episodes can be found at www.onmywaytowealth.com and on all major podcasting platforms.
I look forward to helping you Build A Better Financial Future!