15 Things to Expect From Your Financial Planner

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15 Things to Expect From Your Financial Planner

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15 Things to Expect From Your Financial PlannerWhat should your financial planner do for you?

With multiple designations, very little consistency across the industry, and stories of malpractice, choosing - and trusting - a financial planner can be difficult.

Here are 15 things to expect from your financial planner.

1. They ask you about your personal goals.

If a financial planner recommends investments before determining what you need the money for (ie: your goals), they're either skipping a step or have an alternate agenda. Financial planning is all about structuring your finances to help you get to where you want to go in life - now and later. Goals are crucial to the plan.

2. They determine your risk tolerance.

Asset allocation balances your time frame, income requirements, taxes, and tolerance for risk so your money is invested to your needs and comfort level. Without determining your risk tolerance, things could get ugly.

3. They review your assets, debts, income, cash flow, and insurance policies.

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Before a financial planner can design a plan, they have to determine your starting point. This entails a detailed personal financial review.

4. They recommend a range of investment products.

If your financial planner really pushes one product or investment company, it could be a warning sign that they're not working in your best interests. Your financial planner should have access to a variety of investments, and diversify your money accordingly.

5. They give you a written financial plan.

Not all financial planners may give you a written financial plan, just like not all business owners have a business plan. Although it doesn't have to be a deal-breaker, having a plan is a roadmap to where you want to go. Without one, chances of success are reduced and miscommunications are increased. 

6. They give you a prospectus.

Every investment product should come with a detailed written description of the investment, composition, performance, risks, and disclaimers. Although it's pretty dry, it's still a requirement, and an educational tool.

7. They listen to you.

If you say you're saving for a house purchase in two years and they recommend high-risk investments, something's not right. Make sure they hear you out. This is also why having a written financial plan is important; it's confirmation that you're both on the same page.  

8. They don't pressure you.

Although some people need a gentle push into action, a high-pressured sales pitch isn't necessary, and you could end up in an inappropriate investment for your needs or comforts.

9. They tell you how they're paid.

Financial planners can be paid by commission, salary, fixed fee, or a percentage of your portfolio. No matter how they're paid, they should be forthcoming about it.

10. They're accessible.

Your financial planner should be responsive to your calls and emails. It's your money, and it's important.

11. They don't move your money around constantly.

Don't perceive regular transactions as effective money management. A well-diversified portfolio should largely stand the test of time on its own. Market timing is a misnomer.

12. You meet regularly to review your situation.

The only way to determine if your financial plan is on course is to review it, annually or semi-annually. This includes a full update of your financial situation and goals.

13. They're realistic.

If a plan knocks your socks off and seems too good to be true, it probably is. Promises of high returns or convoluted investment strategies are a sign that something is amiss. As boring as it sounds, slow and steady usually wins the race.  

14. They're educated.

Don't be afraid to ask what education and designations they have. Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a good designation to look for.

15. You trust them.

Without trust, your relationship with your financial planner is doomed. Ideally you can be referred through a friend or family member, but either way you need to feel good about your financial planner and the relationship.

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Nora Dunn Life Balance BloggerNora Dunn

Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under the CareOne Debt Relief Services Life Balance blog. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services. You can follow Nora on Twitterhttp://twitter.com/hobonora

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  • Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be rich to warrant the services of a financial planner.

  • You decide to clean up your finances, create a budget, and start saving money. But a few months later, progress is slow and you're losing inspiration to stay on track.

  • Take some time to evaluate your financial planner.  While you can plan your financial future on your own, their planning and experience can truly make living out the plan much less stressful and enjoyable.

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