Choosing A Financial Planner
What is a Financial Planner?
I would recommend that we all go out and find a Financial Planner we can trust. I have been to banks, I have talked to several different investment professionals which were not linked to banks. Most of us do need an advisor to guide us and help define our financial future. Your advisor will make recommendations based on facts that they have researched.
A Financial Planner is a person who gives investment advice and renders financial planning services to individuals, businesses and governments.
Besides investment advice Financial Planners also cover the following areas:
- Retirement planning
- Estate planning
- Tax strategies
- Asset protection
- Cash flow planning
- Financial coaching
I personally need this coaching and since having chosen our Financial Planner things have taken a definite turn for the better. Our Planner lets us know if there are changes coming in the future and what we can expect. He has diversified our investments across a lower risk area so that we have minimal risk of loss. Please make sure that when you do sign up that you have in writing how much of your investment money is guaranteed.
One major thing to keep in mind, don't be so concerned on saving your money that you miss out on life in hopes of having a Grand Retirement, continue to enjoy life but budget wisely for your future. I'll be the first to admit that we live very frugally and I drive a car that is around thirteen years old, it's just a work car and it still gets me to work. I have grown past the point of caring what others think of what I drive but on the other hand am beginning to search the market for a good used car that will last me a few years.
Finding the Right Financial Planner
What you want to look for when you are searching for someone to help manage your finances.
- You want an Agent in a location close enough to home so it is not a long journey when you do wish or need to go and see the agent.
- Advisor has been consistently successful when you look at the past history.
- You want a long term financial partner
Has a professional designation as in CFP, CFU or CLCU, there are a variety of others but remember this designation is not a guarantee that all will go well.
Why you should choose a CFP Professional! Certified Financial Planner, Certification is the industry gold standard in financial planning. CFP professionals are the largest identifiable body of licensed financial planners in Canada with over 17,500 individuals meeting the strict standards to attain this designation. A Certified Financial Planner professional has met high standards of financial planning professionalism and abides by a Code of Ethics, which is strictly enforced by Financial Planners Standards Council.
- Listen for direct and knowledgeable, beware of the advisor that offers simplistic solutions or vague reassurances
- An Agent that speaks the same language as you do; meaning that the Agent does take the time to explain things to you fully.
- Don't rely on your gut feeling!
- How do they get paid? Is it direct fee based or will it be commission based? Direct fee means that you will pay him or her their monthly, quarterly or yearly fee, it is not based upon commission from investment or insurance products they sell. The main benefit of hiring a fee-only planner is that you know your planner won't have any conflicts of interest. For instance, your planner would have no reason to recommend life insurance if you didn't need it, since he or she wouldn't get a commission for selling it to you. It's also easier to keep track of what you're paying your planner.
- How do they propose to work with you?
- What are you trying to achieve, what are your goals?
- Check with friends or co-workers, see if they know of a Financial services office that they would recommend.
- Check the disciplinary history, call your securities regulator. You can call FPSC to see if they are a CFP® professional in good standing or check them out online using the In Good Standing tool.
- Not all Financial Planners are equal in their experience or ethics and may not always act on the clients best interest.
- Interview your potential Financial Planner, just because you go to one planners office does not mean you have to go with that planner. Remember it is your money and future, you need to feel confident that the planner you choose is trustworthy, ethical, experienced and is going to be around for the long term.
- Ask for a registration or disclosure document detailing the method of compensation, conflicts of interest, business affiliations and personal qualifications.
Don't be afraid to ask these and any other questions that you feel need a full and open answer. Any professional will welcome them. (Quoted from the Financial Planning Standards Council Website.)
- What are your qualifications?
- What experience do you have?
- What services do you offer?
- What is your approach to financial planning?
- Will you be the only person working with me?
- How will I pay for your services?
- How much do you typically charge?
- Could anyone besides me benefit from your recommendations?
- Are you regulated by any organization?
- Can I have it in writing?
- Do your research at Canada Financial Planning Standards
Where you can find:
- Canada CFP member check
- Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards
- Reports on Disciplinary Actions
- Check on your Financial Planner or a Brokerage Check
Questions For Your Financial Planner
Once you have found the Planner that is right for you here are some areas they can help you in.
- How should I plan for my retirement?
- How can I lower my tax bill?
- How can I plan for my children's education?
- How can I ensure the financial security of my family?
- How do I develop an investment strategy that supports my lifestyle?
- How can I ensure that my wealth is transferred to my loved ones?
- I have money to invest. Where do I begin?
- How can I manage my short-term needs while maintaining my long-term financial goals?
Financial planning can help you . . .
- Minimize the taxes you pay
- Maximize your investment returns
- Make your retirement years more comfortable and secure
- Handle your day-to-day finances faster and easier
- Increase your savings and optimize the growth of your wealth
- Improve your cash flow for a better balance between income and expenses
- Accumulate funds for special goals, like higher education for children
- Look after your dependents in case of death or disability
- Estimate your insurance needs
- Have more confidence in your financial decisions
- Transfer the assets of your estate to your heirs in the most effective way