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How to Choose a Financial Planner

300px-Mark_Gorman_PreachingBefore you sign a contract or buy a product consider the following before choosing your financial planner.

  1. Make sure they’re a CFP®. At the very minimum, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ has the met the education, exam, ethics and experience requirements in order to be qualified to discuss your financial planning needs. Anyone can call themselves a financial planner, but not everyone is a CFP®. This should be the starting point of your search. Just because the planner is a CFP®, doesn’t mean you should automatically work with them.

  1. Make sure they’re a fiduciary. A fiduciary is legally required to act in your best interest – regardless of the financial outcome for the planner. Planners that have only a suitability requirement are not required to act in your best interest, but merely find a product suitable for your situation. In other words (and these are my words) they only need to rationalize why the product is a good fit for you, but it may not be in your best interest. Some planners are required to act in their company’s interest first, which means your best interests are secondary.
  1. Make sure they’re fee-only. This means that the planner’s only source of compensation is directly from you and not from the commissions on the sale of mutual funds or insurance products. That is, you pay them directly for advice and they work for you. Fee-only can be an hourly rate or a percent fee on your money if they invest your money for you.
  1. Make sure your personalities mesh. Nothing’s worse than getting butterflies every time you have to meet with your planner or your planner being reluctant to return your call. The relationship should be professional, yet enjoyable and even fun. Sometimes personalities don’t click and sometimes they mesh perfectly. Life’s too short and your money too hard-earned to be uneasy talking with your planner. The good news is that generally if the planner lines up with the first three points, it becomes easier to focus on the relationship and building trust together.

Interview a few planners that meet the descriptions above and see which one you like best.

3 Comments

  1. AnneNo Gravatar says:

    pps SR wrote: “Make sure your personalities mesh; The relationship should be professional, yet enjoyable and even fun.” This is the way I picture my Life “when I attain a new Trustee “or CFP” ! Thank-you ! Anne/CT USA

  2. AnneNo Gravatar says:

    ps I have confirmed the “company is authorized to act as a Fiduciary: thank-you! AR (confirmed online webpage CT DOB) so this is at least one positive finding);
    I was noticing the CT DOB confirms almost anyone as a “Mortgage Lender!!:)

  3. AnneNo Gravatar says:

    I think this is great information and I will be sure to forward this info to all I know; I will be sure to bear all this info in mind as I formulate my Financial Future; I esp. like #3; I read the IRS calls “Trust Fund which charges a set monthly fee a fraud”!!
    I have been overpaying for years…Thank you @Getting your financial ducks” AR

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