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"Should I Work with a Financial Planner?"

Presented by Sean Cook

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Aug 5, 2015 2:26:14 PM

should-you-work-with-a-financial-plannerWhether you’re assessing your investment strategy, thinking about how to pay for a child’s college education, or looking ahead to retirement, you may have asked yourself: “Should I work with a Financial Planner?”

The answer to this question depends on your personal circumstances and preferences. In order to decide whether you should work with a Financial Planner, let’s first discuss what a Financial Planner actually does.

How a Financial Planner Can Help

Like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, seeing the big picture makes things much clearer. A good Financial Planner is a professional who understands your specific financial and personal circumstances, and helps you make wise choices that align with your goals.

Everyone’s financial situation is unique as they move through life’s transitions. There are many areas that a planner can help. For example, if retirement is your main concern, here are ways a Financial Planner can assist you:

  • Clarify your current financial situation
  • Identify and understand your hopes and priorities
  • Project future income and formulate an income plan
  • Sort through available Social Security and pension options
  • Simplify your investments and match them to your goals
  • Coordinate as a team and connect you with trusted accountants and attorneys
  • Keep your strategy on track through your life transitions

If your current priority is paying for a child’s higher education, (often called a “financial toll booth” on the road to retirement) a Financial Planner can:

  • Organize your current financial situation
  • Project future college costs and ways to meet them
  • Explain the various avenues to save and pay for this goal
  • Personalize financial aid, college admissions and affordability, based on your family’s resources
  • Look at how this impacts your retirement
  • Lay out a plan to implement and monitor

Do You Want Financial Expertise?

Not all financial matters need a professional’s analysis. So when might you want to work with a financial planner? I have heard a few common reasons from our clients:

  • Organize my financial life
  • We only have one shot at this, and want a professional’s perspective or expertise
  • We have managed on our own, but we have a major change in our situation
  • I want to focus on other matters
  • I want someone trustworthy to help my loved ones if I am not around

Many successful people have a coach or advisor that helps them meet new challenges and create new opportunities. Similarly, a planner may help guide and support you, or uncover new possibilities that you may not have considered.

I often tell clients I am like their Financial Sherpa; teaming with them to help them scale life’s financial peaks. The goal is to have a vivid vision of your ideal future, specific and meaningful goals, and support you along your path to get there.

Choosing a Financial Planner

A good professional can bring clarity to your finances and help make wise choices for the future. There are many types of advisers available, and each may have a different focus of expertise. If you are choosing a Financial Planner to help coordinate your financial picture, you may consider someone whose services extend beyond investments; someone who embraces a comprehensive wealth management approach. By selecting a planner that takes a holistic approach, you should not have to coordinate different advisers for investments, college planning, retirement planning, etc.

There are many types of advisers in the financial industry, and several different professional designations and licenses.  In the financial planning arena, advisors who hold a Certified Financial Planner® certification have met extensive education, examination, experience and ethics requirements. Even among certified financial planners, there are different areas of expertise. The best way to find a good fit is to have a “get acquainted” interview with a planner and see if you are a good match. Here are 10 key questions you may wish to ask when you are selecting an advisor.

An experienced planner can share the knowledge gained from helping other clients who have faced similar circumstances. If you feel you want help and education in facing life’s financial challenges, working with a planner may be the right fit for you.

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