What to look for in a financial planner

I sometimes get asked the question – how does the man in the street find a reputable financial planner.  Word of mouth is the best way to start looking for a financial planner.  Talk to your accountant, or check with family and friends, or anyone else that you trust for referrals.  Relying on a referral is always better than just picking up the phone book or searching the internet.

Once you have identified one or two planners that appear to meet your requirements, set up an appointment to meet with them.  This introductory meeting is normally at no cost, and it provides both you and the planner with the opportunity to discuss what you are looking for and whether there is a mutual understanding of the task at hand.  Certain financial planners specialise in different areas (e.g. retirement), so make sure that the financial planner you choose meets your needs.

Feeling comfortable with the financial planner that you choose to partner with is also very important.  Remember, a financial planner needs to know much more about you than just your finances.  It is vital that they understand your background and where you’ve come from, and what you have gone through up until this point in your life.  They need to understand what you are going through at the present time, and where you want to go.  With all of this information, a financial planner will be able to construct a personalised financial plan based on the plan you have for your life.  And because you will be sharing these intimate details about yourself and your finance, make sure that you can trust your planner completely.

On a more technical note, the financial planner that you appoint should hold the Certified Financial Planner ® designation.  The CFP designation is one of the most respected financial planning designations and it requires the financial planner to have passed a lengthy examination, follow a strict code of ethics, and have a certain amount of experience.

You are about to enter into a long-term relationship with your planner.  They should take on the role of “Chief Financial Officer” of your life, and will be helping you with every major financial decision that you make. Your future will be shaped with their assistance so do your research, choose wisely and trust your gut.

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