Choosing a financial planner can be overwhelming. What should you be looking for? We tried to simplify that question by sharing five questions to ask yourself before making the big decision. Happy hunting!
5: What experience and qualifications does your financial planner have?
Experience and qualifications aren’t everything and you shouldn’t choose your financial planner strictly on how many decades they’ve had their job or how many letters are behind their name. What you should consider is whether he or she has reasonable licensing, training, and time in the job to be competent while serving you.
When looking for a financial planner, I would recommend working with someone who either has their Certified Financial Planner™ Certification or is working towards it. A CFP® is required to have at least two years of full-time financial planning with clients (or three years working in the industry), a certain level of education, and the passing of an exam that tests its test-takers on a wide array of topics including investments, insurance, fundamentals of financial planning, estate planning, retirement planning and tax planning.
4: What features of the engagement are important to you?
A financial planner is not “one size fits all” and you need to know what features are important to you when working with one. Do you prefer to meet in person or are you okay meeting virtually? Do you want multiple meetings often that are more hands-on? Would you like your financial planner to only manage your investment accounts or are you simply looking for one-time advice related to some questions you have?
3: Understand what you’re paying and the value of what you’re getting
Price alone is meaningless. Before you are misled to believe that you should be price-sensitive and go for the lowest price, please think about what you are getting for that price. This is a conversation that moves away from price and moves towards value. If your financial planner is at your beckoned call at a moment’s notice helping you navigate questions at every turn, it may be worth the extra few hundred or thousand dollars a year.
2: What “vibe” you have with your financial planner?
“Vibe” is a technical term, I think…kidding aside, this basically means trust and unfortunately, this is often immeasurable. Yes, there are certain actions or results that may be tangible that lead to trust, but sometimes it is a combination of actions and the way he or she makes you feel as to whether you can trust them.
This does not mean you have to be sitting in a room with your financial planner to understand this “vibe.” In fact, virtual planners are on the rise and better yet, there is a shocking study that claims millennials trust people on social media and YouTube more than their parents! Whether you buy that or not, the point here is that your finances are personal and important so make sure you find a financial planner you can trust.
1: Are your individual needs and expectations met?
While it may seem to overlap just a little bit with the pricing of services, this is more specifically pointed at what your expectations are from the engagement and if those expectations are met. For example, maybe you expect a specific recommendation on whether to spend your bonus by contributing to your emergency fund or on a vacation and you’ve expressed that to your planner. You should ensure that you get that exact deliverable from your planner because that is ultimately what will make the relationship successful for both parties, keeping in mind that your planner can never guarantee or promise to deliver some things, like investment returns...we will leave that conversation for another post.
Financial planning as a profession has continued to progress with the emergence of new technology, continued research in the field, and integration of behavioral science, among other things. This field is growing in talent and importance and now more than ever, you can be picky about who you do business with, so do just that; be picky.
About the Author:
Maddi Napier, CFP®, MBA, FSRI, QKA, is the founder of Minerva Wealth Planning, LLC based in Columbus, Ohio. She works with the next generation to help families and individuals create a plan for their finances they can understand. Want to schedule a meetup with Maddi? Schedule that HERE. Not ready to commit to a meeting? Take our quick quiz HERE to get a personalized video from Maddi within 3 business days with some feedback about your financial situation.