Do You Need A Financial Planner?

financial-plannerHaving a financial planner may seem like a benefit of the wealthy but many people, regardless of wealth, have planners. The goal of a financial planner is to help you reach your goals. If your goal is to buy a house, start a business, pay down debt, build wealth, etc. a planner can help you get there. A planner doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. They can also help you identify ways to protect your assets with various types of insurance or tax advantages.

27% of the world’s wealth is influenced by women which equates to about $20 trillion but only 25% of women over age 40 in the US have a financial planner. Women are often not the target audience of financial planning advertising. It still seen as the purview of the man in the relationship. Single? Many women don’t feel they need a financial planner because their lives just aren’t that “complicated”. Maybe that’s true, find out if and when you can benefit from the services of a financial planner.

A financial planner is someone who will work with you on achieving your financial goals through suggesting various tools and strategies. They should have the CFP, certified financial planner, credential to be considered a true financial planner. There are lots of planning tools (products) available and the government requires someone be licensed to offer such advice, products and services. You can use a CPA, certified public accountant, who is also a personal financial planner, PFS. If you use a CPA you want to be sure they are also trained to advise on personal financial matters rather than just how to count the money. There is a difference. Also, financial planners are not necessarily investment brokers and unless they are licensed as such, they should not be offering specific investment advise such as where to invest your money. Many financial service firms provide all three of these services, and more. If you use an individual, make sure you know what they are and are not allowed to say and do.

Most households in America don’t have an innate knowledge of finances and it’s not something most people learn in school. So if you have a big financial goal it may be worth meeting with an adviser even once a year. We all have one big financial goal – retirement. Of course we don’t want to be told what we already know – save more, reduce debt, budget, plan for retirement, etc. We want to be told how and for a reasonable price. So how much are these advisers paid? A fee-only charges only for the advice they provide; fee-based charges for their advice plus earn commissions on products they sell; and commissioned-based make money from the products they sell. The charges can start around $150 per hour, some more some less, depending on how much work they will do on your behalf. Some advisers actually manage your money for you hence they are paid more. If they are merely advising you on what to do with your money that’s less work for them. Be warned, they have products they are trying to sell, that’s how they make their real money.

GET STARTED WITH FINDING A FINANCIAL PLANNER

Visit a few planners who offer a free consultation, have a clear list of goals and understand their credentials. If they offer you services evaluate them by understanding very clearly how they will help you achieve your goal. But also keep in mind that not everyone is out to hustle you either.

  1. Get started by writing down your financial goals right now – having a strong retirement plan should be number one on that list regardless of your age.
  2. Ignore the commercials for financial planning firms and do your research by visiting the Financial Planning Association. Planners who work at big firms will be listed here, it also tells you who provides a free consult. It’s okay to get referrals, but still check their credentials and for any complaints!
  3. Then check their CFP credentials by visiting the CFP Board of Standards. This site also offers information on how to pick a financial planner and if it’s for you. For CPAs check the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy.
  4. Visit several planners who specialize in the goals you want to achieve. If you don’t have children or a large amount of wealth an estate planner is probably not for you. Some will have equity or income minimums, find that out ahead of time. Don’t waste your free visit on someone who can’t help you.

Lastly, never ever give up total control of your money. An excellent CFP worth their salt can handle your entire financial world without your intervention. You don’t want this, you want a partner. You want to know and be the one making decisions about where your money is going.

REAL TALK | REAL THINGS | REAL RESULTS

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