As you read this, you might be considering working with someone on your finances. If you ask me, I think that’s a great idea. As unbiased as it can sound, everyone needs someone in their life to help guide them to make wise financial decisions. Whoever you ultimately choose to work with—or not—seeking professional financial help is important. It can have a huge impact on you both today and in the future.
The financial world is a complex one to navigate, and there are many skilled professionals out there. But, as you look into working with someone, I recommend a few key points to consider.
First, look behind the title. “Financial professional” should not be a self-promotional description. There are very specific industry-certified designations that denote objective standards of competence. If you need help with estate planning, make sure the person you’re working with is certified to offer estate planning advice. As another example, if you’re looking for professional help with your personal taxes, ensure they have the appropriate CPA designation.
Financial professionals can earn industry certifications by completing accredited courses and passing exams. For instance, Certified Financial Planner™, Chartered Financial Consultant®, and Registered Financial Consultant are all official certifications that must be earned. They all have different purposes, so knowing their differences may help you find the right professional for your needs. No matter how many letters of the alphabet are behind their name, it’s helpful to understand their background and training to determine whether they are a good fit for you.
Ask a lot of questions. Any good financial professional will be able to answer any questions you have. A great financial professional will answer those questions without making you feel stupid. Any question you may have about your finances is a good one to ask; just don’t be afraid to ask. That’s what we’re here for!
Okay, so you’ve selected someone and agreed to a first meeting. Awesome! Now, it’s time to prepare for your meeting. In preparation, ask them what documents you should bring, such as a will, insurance policies, pension plans, investment account statements, and your budget.
This meeting is an interview. You are looking to hire an expert in the field for a need you have. Some really good questions to ask the financial professional you’re interviewing are why they became a financial professional, how they communicate with their clients, and what their ideal client is.
Prepare to discuss key subject areas like your retirement, cash flow, savings, college expenses, emergency funds, debt, and estate planning.
When you first meet with your financial professional, be transparent about your financial needs and goals. This is not as easy as it sounds. If you aren’t sure of your financial goals, the person you meet with should be able to ask you questions that help you clarify and define them.
Something to consider as you look to work with a professional is how they will be paid. Many earn fees for their time; some earn a commission when you buy or sell assets, and others charge both fees and commissions for their work.
After you’ve developed clear investment goals and strategies, your financial advisor will prepare a plan for you to review together. The plan will include major objectives, like how much insurance to have, how to build cash reserves for emergencies, and steps you can take to address your short- and long-term financial goals; this may also include any investment objectives.
Once you approve the plan, you will meet for annual reviews to make sure the plan still suits your needs and circumstances and to chart the progress you make toward your defined goals.
By partnering with a financial professional, you’re making a commitment to take better control of your finances and create a structured path toward a more secure financial future.
If you still have questions about working with a certified financial professional, feel free to shoot me an email or give us a call. Our team is here to help you reach your goals and walk with you on your financial journey.