Find your perfect financial planner: what to look for before and after choosing one
It’s important to understand what you can expect in a financial planner. Here are some key traits.
- Competence: A good financial advisor should be well-educated, and able to demonstrate a significant amount of experience. CFPs are educated, tested and experienced.
- Objectivity: Your needs should be at the heart of all your planner's recommendations. Your financial advisor should consider your situation carefully, then give you advice that best meets your goals. This approach may require your planner to explain that your goals are unrealistic, given current resources and financial commitments.
- Integrity: Trust is central to a successful financial planning relationship. You rely on your planner's honesty, professionalism and abilities to achieve your goals. When you know your planner takes her financial planner duties and responsibilities seriously and places principles over personal gain, you can form a good working partnership. The CFP Board's strict Standards of Professional Conduct are designed to ensure CFP® professionals act in a professionally responsible manner.
- Clarity: Fair treatment means your CFP will clearly state what financial planning services will be provided and cost. Your planner will also explain the risks associated with their financial recommendations, along with any potential conflicts of interest. For example, does the financial planner gain personally or financially from your purchase of a particular product or from the outcome of a suggested strategy? CFP® professional are required to disclose any money they make from the sale of a product.
- Diligence: Before engaging you as a client, your CFP will discuss your goals and objectives and explain what you can expect from the relationship and financial planning services. Once your planner has determined that he or she (or their staff and/or network of related professionals) can assist you, the planner will make recommendations suitable for you. A diligent financial advisor will reasonably investigate the products or services they recommend and closely supervise any staff working with you.
- Compliance: Your CFP will not provide investment advice or stock brokerage services unless they are properly qualified and licensed to do so, as required by state or federal law. A financial planner who holds CFP® certification may not be a broker/dealer, which refers to an individual who is licensed to buy and sell investment products for or to clients.
- Privacy: To get the best results from your financial planning relationship, you need to divulge relevant personal and financial information to your financial planner on a regular basis. Your CFP will keep this information in confidence, only sharing it to conduct business on your behalf, at your consent or when ordered to do so by the courts.