These days almost anyone can promote themselves as a financial planner or adviser. Between social media and the Internet, it’s not difficult to find any number of people telling you what to do with your money. Opinions about the economy, stock market and investment opportunities are as numerous as the stars in the sky. Who should you trust with your hard-earned funds? A financial planner is someone who offers advice on saving, investing or growing money. They can help you achieve a particular financial goal, such as accumulating funds to make a down payment on a home or retirement planning. You certainly don’t have to have a financial coach to save or invest, but given the complexity of financial planning, it may be a good idea for you to work with one. Here are five things to consider.
Certification or Bust
You should work with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). Considered the gold standard, this certification requires extensive coursework and examination and three years of specific experience. CFPs are also required to take continuing education courses. You have very specific goals for your money and it should be commended to someone with demonstrated education and experience. A team of certified financial planners such as Goldstone Financial Group is a great place to get started.
A fiduciary is an adviser that pledges to act in your best interest at all times. This is key because many investment professionals that aren’t fiduciaries are often held to the “sustainability standard.” Simply put, this means their advice and products only need to be suitable for your situation, but not necessarily in your best interest. Avoid potential consultants that are not fiduciaries with respect to all aspects of your portfolio and business dealings.
You should determine how a potential financial planner earns their income. Careful evaluation of their compensation structure may help you identify any potential conflicts of interest that may work to your disadvantage. CFPs are usually paid through client fees, commissions or a combination of both. Be careful of commission-based services. Your consultant may be less inclined to sell you the right products if they collect a cut for recommending others.
You’re putting the health of your savings and future earnings with someone else. Ask a potential advisor if they’ve ever been investigated by industry regulators or convicted of a crime. Request references of clients whose goals are similar to yours. Be wary of any potential consultants who are not forthcoming with this information.
The world of money management is full of risk and uncertainty. Be cautious of any potential financial planner that makes guarantees of market performance. This is a red flag that such a planner will engage in extremely risky behavior with your hard-earned money. A great advisor offers guidance about a range of issues concerning your goals, your current resources and the risks you’re willing to take.
At any stage of your life, you may benefit from working with someone to help you navigate the complex world of personal finance. You’re putting your funds and future in their hands, so choosing the right adviser requires careful consideration. Be sure to do plenty of research and be prepared to ask many questions as you narrow your search.