Do you have someone that assists you with your personal finances? Have you thought that maybe you do need someone, but don’t know where to start? My family has used a financial planner to help us make big purchase decisions and investment decisions. Fortunately for us, my brother is our personal financial advisor, I trust him completely and his advice comes cheap! No matter your income, it is always a good idea to take charge of your financial future and educate yourself. If you don’t know whether you need a financial advisor or not, read on to see if you do.
What is a Certified Financial Planner?
There are many types of professionals that can help you with your finances, usually referred to as financial advisors. For the sake of simplicity, we will be discussing Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) in this article, but know that there are others out there that can help you if a CFP is not a good fit.
A financial advisor is usually an expert in one area of finance while a Certified Financial Planner is an expert in multiple fields to give you a broader plan for your finances. Anyone can call themselves a financial planner but there are several requirements to become a Certified Financial Planner™.
A CFP must hold a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited school and complete college-level courses of study in financial planning that are approved by the CFP board. CFPs must also pass an exam called the CFP Certification Exam. Many have compared this to the board exams to become a lawyer. It is taken over several days and covers investment planning, general financial planning principles, retirement savings, risk management, tax planning, estate planning and more. The exam is multiple-choice, but it is more testing the rationale of your answers instead of something you can memorize. To become a CFP you must also have completed 6,000 hrs or about 3 years of full-time work experience in the field.
CFPs are held to the highest standard of ethics. CFPs operate under a fiduciary standard of care that requires that a CFP acts solely in the best interest of their clients. According to CFP.net, they commit to adhering to the principles of honesty, integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence as they are outlined in CFP Board’s Code of Ethics. Everyone who seeks the CFP certification is subject to a background check and can be denied if anything comes up during the check. After someone becomes a CFP, if they violate the CFP board’s ethical and practice standards, they can be subject to discipline as well as revocation of their certification. If you decide to use a CFP, and are looking for one, you can verify their certification and background on CFP.net
CFPs are experts in the field and can assist you with estate planning, taxes, investments, insurance, and retirement. From there, they can help you figure out how to achieve your goals. A client’s relationship with a CFP is a continuous one that can develop different plans as your financial and personal life changes. Whether you decided to use a CFP or another type of financial advisor, it is also a good idea to get referrals from friends and family who may be in the same life stage or a similar financial situation.
Why you may need a Certified Financial Planner.
Major Life Transition
A major life transition can have a large impact on your finances. You may be getting married and your spouse has a large amount of debt that you might want to plan for. Or you may be getting a divorce and transitioning back to a one-income life. You may also be needing to prepare for a new addition to your family. Any of these events can change your financial future and a CFP can help you get and stay on track with a plan.
Financial Life has become complicated
Another time you may want to call in the big guns is when your financial situation has changed drastically and become more complicated than handling on your own. Large inheritances, their tax implications and what to do with it is a situation where you would want to use a CFP. If you are going to be retiring in less than 10 years and don’t know when or how to start drawing from your retirement accounts, it is a good idea to meet with a CFP to plan accordingly.
Help you grow your wealth
If you have some money that you would like to invest in order to grow your wealth, it is probably a good idea to hire a CFP. Although, you do your own research on stocks and investments, a CFP is really an expert in the field and can help you make smart decisions for long term wealth. A CFP is also an impartial party that can prevent you from making emotional decisions when it comes to investing.
Can you afford a CFP?
Another major thing to consider when deciding whether you need a CFP or not, is can you afford it? CFP advice is not usually inexpensive. There are different ways CFP work. Some can look over your finances for a one time fee, or a retainer fee and some are commission based. A good way to think about it is if you are really stressed over your finances or think you are unable to make decisions for your financial future, a CFP is probably worth the investment.
Hiring a CFP may not be the right decision for everyone and for some it can be a great investment but if you find yourself questioning what to do with your finances, you might want to consider hiring a professional.
We love to hear from you. Do you use a certified financial planner or another type of financial advisor? Share below if it has been a good decision for you.