If you are in deep financial trouble or if you're the type that cannot seem to manage your finances, maybe it's time to sit down with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or most commonly called financial advisor. These practicing professionals will assist you in dealing with your financial issues through proper financial planning. Most financial planners are registered investment advisors certified and recognized by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards in the United States and other organizations affiliated with Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB). The term "certified" cannot be used by anyone; they have to meet certain educational requirements, pass an examination, abide by the ethical requirements and of course, pay the fees that go with the ongoing certification. So you see, these people should really know what they are talking about.
You can engage the services of a financial advisor to help you deal with various financial services such as tax planning, investment planning, retirement planning and a lot more. They can even be more specific such mortgage planners. They perform this task through a financial planning process, which can be tailored to your specific needs, which will mainly depend on what your financial goal is. So before you jump in and shop for a financial advisor, you need to know what your goal is. Understand what you really need to make it easier for you and the planner to suit the necessary services.
It is essential to find a financial advisor that will look after your best interest. That is why it is important to know that you are dealing with registered investment advisors--they are either registered with their residence state or the Securities and Exchange Commission. These professionals are regulated under the Investment Advisors Act of 1940 requiring them to act in the best interest of their client.
The best way to look for potential planners is by getting a referral from other people. Ask your friend, your officemate, or better, your accountant. Personal reference is the best way to start because these people have already established trust with their clients. The next step is to scour through the phone directory. Then of course, the widest coverage would be the Internet.
If you have found a planner in your locale that meets the necessary requirements you have established, then you set up an appointment. One good test to know if the planner is reputable is to see if he conducts the meeting without any cost.
These are the things you need to ask at the initial meeting:
- Get references - two or more existing or former clients will do, so you can check his credentials.
- Find out how they are paid - whether they are on a flat-fee, commission-based, or fee based on assets invested by the client or a combination.
- Know their products and services.
Talk to three or more planners before deciding on getting their services so you can broaden your choices and make sure that you will be comfortable dealing with him. Keep in mind that you will be sharing your financial information with this person.