Also called a financial advisor, a financial planner is someone who generally will consult with their clients regarding things such as wealth management, personal finances, and sometimes estate planning as well. Some financial planners specialize in retirement savings while others may be able to help with a wider array of areas involving personal finance. So, the question of whether or not you need a financial planner really will depend on a few different factors related to your financial picture. In this article, we look closer at what a financial planner does as well as some of the pros and cons of working with a financial professional.
What a Financial Planner Does
As mentioned, there are a variety of things that a financial planner can help you with. Among these roles, a financial planner will assess your financial picture and help you find investment funds and accounts that make the most sense given your financial objectives, and they can also help you with things like mortgages and loans in some cases.
Keep in mind that within the financial field there are going to be a few different designations that financial planners may or may not have, depending on their practice and specialty. There are CFA and CFP designations for instance, with a CFP designation being the most common. You want to do some research to this end before choosing a financial planner with whom to work.
When to Hire a Financial Planner
Fortunately, we do live in an era during which there is a ton of information to be found online regarding investment strategies and retirement planning among other topics. That said, should you go beyond what you can find out on your own and hire a financial planner to help you? You might ask yourself the following: Do you feel confident in your knowledge of investing? Are you an expert as far as financial instruments? Do you have time to keep close tabs on your portfolio? Answering these kinds of questions will let you know better whether or not you do need a financial advisor’s help.
Sometimes people will seek out a financial advisor/planner’s services during major life events. That is to say, as people get closer to retiring, they start to worry about their financial future. If two people get married, they might approach a financial planner regarding how to blend finances. Divorces can sometimes spur people to hire a financial advisor. As children get closer to college-age, many parents will enlist the aid of a financial planner. And sometimes in the event of an inheritance, a person will go to a financial planner for advice regarding how to allocate the funds/property, etc.
Pros and Cons of Using a Financial Planner
For those who may not have a great deal of experience when it comes to investing or even just managing finances in general, working with a financial planner certainly can have its advantages. Did you know that the bulk of people in the US are not adequately funded for their retirement? Most people simply don’t have the foresight to plan for retirement. This is where a financial planner can be a huge benefit. Their job is to think long term, to plan long term. They consider issues that many people may overlook in this context. The best advisors are those who ask a lot of questions, do their research, and continuously gauge your comfort level as far as any investment strategy goes.
Financial planners are very much detail-oriented. Their job is to take all of the gathered details and form a comprehensive plan moving forward. They want to ensure that their client is optimally positioned for the present and the future. In turn, making those harder decisions gets easier when you are working with a financial advisor. Some financial planners will even work with you in terms of finding the best insurance policies, investing in mutual funds and stocks, and they might even act as a liaison when it comes to negotiating with brokers for example. And as mentioned, many financial planners will take a hands-on approach when it comes to their client’s estate planning needs as well.
You could think of your financial planner as your financial quarterback. They do the legwork, research relevant funds, comparison shop and when they’ve found what makes the most sense for you, they will run the plays accordingly.
On the flip side, there are drawbacks at times when working with a financial planner that you should be aware of. Perhaps the biggest is the cost. Yes, the cost to work with a financial planner is a consideration, but what we are talking about is the potential cost if you happen to be working with a bad financial planner. They could lose you a great deal of money if they are not well-versed in their field. From pointing you to bad investment strategies to directing you to buy and sell securities more than is necessary to simply failing to be communicative and not responding when you do need their advice, an incompetent or dishonest financial planner could lead to a devastating monetary loss for you.
You want to do as much research on the planner you are thinking about working with as possible before signing on and trusting them with your hard-earned money. You also want to make sure that you steer clear of financial planners who may have conflicts of interest. While it may be difficult to discern whether or not they are making recommendations based upon personal connections, if you do suspect something, it is better to bring it up ASAP rather than lose money because of biased advice.
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