How to Choose the right financial planner

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There are retirement plans to plan for and college tuition for the kids. insurance. estate planning. And, oh, don’t forget your daughter’s wedding. If all of this sounds familiar, it might be time to find a financial planner and start shopping around.

Certain professionals, such as stockbrokers or tax preparers, help you handle certain aspects of your financial life. However, if you don’t have an overall plan, you may be spinning your wheels trying to get ahead. This is where you need a financial planner. A trained and astute person will usually create a written plan that focuses on things like your retirement and insurance needs, the investments you need to make to reach your goals, your college funding strategy, and what needs to be addressed. Debt – and finally – how to correct the mistakes you accidentally made trying to plan for yourself.

Before you start shopping for a planner, there’s one caveat. Unlike brain surgeons, hairdressers, and plumbers, financial planners don’t need to read books, take exams, or prove their abilities before hanging shingles. This means that anyone can claim the title, and thousands of poorly trained people can claim it. That means finding the right planner for you and your family takes more work than researching the best new flat screen TVs. It should be. In the end, what’s at stake is your financial future.

Here’s how to get started.

old boy network

One easy way to start looking for a financial planner is to ask for a recommendation. If you have a lawyer or accountant you trust, ask him for the names of promoters he has seen and admired. Such experts are in the best position to judge a planner’s ability.

But don’t stop with recommendations. You should also take a closer look at your credentials. A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Personal Finance Professional (PFS) must pass a rigorous examination and must have specific experience in the financial services field. This alphabet soup doesn’t guarantee excellence, but the initials show the planners are serious about their work.

you get what you pay for

Many financial planners make some or all of their money on commission through the sale of investments and insurance, but this system creates an immediate conflict between the planner’s interests and their own. why? That’s because the products that pay the highest fees, such as whole life insurance or high-yield mutual funds, are generally not the ones that offer the best rewards to customers. The best advice in general is to avoid commission-only planners. It would be best if you also were wary of fee-based planners who take commissions and also take commissions for their advice.

That leaves you with a financial planner who only takes commissions. They do not sell financial products such as insurance or stocks, so their advice is unlikely to be biased or influenced by their desire to earn commissions. They only charge for advice. A fee-only planner can charge a percentage of the investment under their management (typically 1%) or an hourly rate starting at around 120 per hour. Nonetheless, you can generally expect to pay 1,500 to 5,000 for the first year you will receive a written financial plan, and 750 to 2,500 for ongoing advice in subsequent years.

where to get help

If no one you trust can recommend a planner in your area, or if you want to expand your chosen field, you can obtain a list of local planners from the following trade organizations. Check out each group’s website.

* National Association of Individual Financial Advisors
* Financial Planning Association
* American Institute of Certified Public Accountants

trust but check

After listing at least three candidates, we arrange face-to-face interviews. These consultations are usually free. The questions you want to ask are:

* Are you professional? Many promoters try to be all-rounders and accept all clients who can pay. However, some work primarily with specific types of clients, such as small business owners or widows. Others tend to focus on one area of financial planning, such as retirement issues or college financing. You’ll want to make sure your planner has experience working with people with similar financial lives as yours.

* What is the reward? A reputable planner won’t flinch when you ask this question. It is important to know in advance how and how much you will be charged.

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