Financial Planning

How to Find a Financial Planner

If you are in the market for a financial planner, there are many factors you want to consider before making your decision.  The descriptions provided her may help guide you through the process.

In Search of a Financial Planner

Factors to take into consideration

Finding the right financial professional with whom to work can be a daunting task for many people. There are so many planners and companies advertising their financial planning services, that it may feel overwhelming to find the one who could be right for you. Fortunately, there are several things you can do that can help narrow your search to the kind of planner that you want to use. Here are the main factors to consider when you start your search.

Money Management

If you need active asset management services, then you can eliminate all planners who only provide advice. Be sure to ask any prospective planner who also manages assets if they do so in-house or leave that to others. If they do, then ask them about their investment philosophy and the amount of risk that they take with their clients' money in order to accomplish a given financial objective. You should also ask them if they can show you the results that they have historically reaped for their clients who have investment objectives and time horizons similar to yours. Also find out how big of an investment selection you will have to choose from. Advisors who can only sell proprietary products from one or two companies will not have the breadth of investment choices available to an independent planner or broker.

Method of Compensation

Some planners charge by the hour to dispense advice, while others charge a flat fee or a percentage of assets under management. If you do not need active money management services, then a flat fee or hourly retainer arrangement may be your best bet. There are also many planners who work on commission, such as stockbrokers and insurance agents. While there is nothing wrong with this per se, be sure to keep an eye on the amount of commission that you pay them compared to the returns that you get on your money if they are managing your assets.

Professional Credentials

Many financial planners and stockbrokers have earned professional designations that require coursework and, in some cases, a board exam. The Certified Financial Planner® (CFP) designation is widely considered to be one of the most respected in the field. But there are several other well-known designations as well, including the Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant and Chartered Financial Analyst. While carrying these designations is not an absolute requirement, they do indicate that the advisor has a certain level of commitment to the profession and has undergone formal training. You can find a CFP® professional by searching for one on the CFP® Board website at www.cfp.com.

The Human Factor

Once you have compiled a list of advisors who may fit your needs, meet with each one of them to get a feel for how they function. Always choose an advisor with whom you feel comfortable and like as a person. Advisors who seem aloof or only interested in getting their hands on your assets should be avoided.

Finding a good financial planner will probably take some time and effort. But this is a highly worthwhile endeavor if you are serious about reaching your financial goals and achieving the kind of lifestyle that you want to live both now and in the future.

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Financial planning professionals provide a host of services.

As you search for the right financial planner, be sure the services they offer fit your needs. For more information, visit the Protective Life Learning Center.


All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

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