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What to Look For In a Financial Planner

The role of a financial planner is to help you and your family figure out how to best save earnings, retain value, grow holdings, and meet long-term financial goals. It’s a hefty service, meeting both short and long-term expectations with the same portfolio. The value of the planner is that he or she provides the client an objective opinion of where best to put assets that will have the greatest likelihood of financial goal success.

Unfortunately, many people confuse a financial planner with a stock broker, and then they find themselves playing the public market in ways that work against their goals. Further, planners are not public accountants; it is not their job to manage tax filings or track spending.

Because a planner acts as a professional adviser, they are often seen as filling in a gray area between the tax accountant and the brokerage trader. Over the last five years, more and more financial planners are also bridging the gap between CPAs and traders, offering investment management, tax solutions, and full-service financial planning. That said, there are ways to make sure a planner is qualified to do the work needed for proper asset and wealth management. Here are some of the basics:


Choose a financial planner who possesses the appropriate professional qualifications, such as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) credential. To become a CFP®, the planner must pass testing that demonstrates they meet regulated educational requirements and professionalism standards. 

Find A Planner Who is Focused On People Like You 

More and more financial planners are niche-focused, meaning they work with individuals who share a commonality (teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc). Finding a planner who works with others like you is a great way to make sure they will understand your specific needs and be familiar with options available to you. 

Check References Objectively

The CFP® board's website is a good place to start your search for a financial planner. If you are looking for a Fee-Only planner, then the The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) provides a good start to find planners who carry high level standards and ethical qualifications. Broker Check by FINRA is another good resource to ensure no complaints have been filed against the advisor you are considering working with. 

Fiduciary Commitment

When and financial advisor makes a fiduciary commitment to their clients, they are stating that they have taken a professional and legal commitment to always put the client’s best interest first. So, a financial planner who is a fiduciary has a legal commitment to always act in your best interest and is not getting paid to steer you into buying overpriced investment products you don't want or need.

Run a Background Check

Regardless of how nice the office and professional paperwork, always run a background check. If there are any blips with criminal activity or complaints with a Better Business Bureau, walk away.

Beware of Guarantees 

Any planner boasting an ability to consistently beat the market should set off red flags. Success goes up and down; nobody wins consistently year after year. 

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as investment, tax, or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.

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