4 steps to take when shopping for a financial planner

4 steps to take when shopping for a financial planner

by Julie Jason on Oct 17, 2018

Everyone who wants to retire someday will need help planning for the future – a financial planner can assist.   

No, I’m not a financial planner.  (I am a lawyer and professional money manager whose team plans and manages retirement portfolios for wealthy families.)  Nor do I have any connections or affiliations with financial planning organizations. 

However, I do believe that if you need planning, you would be well-advised to seek out a planner with credentials, such as those conferred by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (a nonprofit organization that seeks to foster professional standards in personal financial planning).

Focusing on CFPs alone, here is how to start shopping:    

1. Visit the credentialing organization. Go to “Find a CFP Professional” at https://tinyurl.com/y6v6kg48.  Enter your city and state to get a list of local CFPs, showing their names, firms, addresses, phone numbers and specialties.

2. Identify compensation method and check minimums. Search for a desired compensation method (“Commission and Fee,” “Commission Only” or “Fee Only”). Narrow your search further with your investable assets ($0 to $99,000, $100,000 to $249,000, and so on; the highest bracket is $5 million-plus).  (If you are looking for planning, the size of your investable assets should not be a limiting factor.)   

3. Match your needs to the specialty. There are 47 practice areas listed on the CFP website. “General Financial Planning” might be a good choice for planning. Other examples include “Comprehensive Financial Planning,” “Budget Development,” “Asset Allocation,” “Charitable Giving,” “Long Term Care,” “Tax Preparation,” “Socially Responsible Investments” and “Social Security Planning.” 

4. Review and Interview. Your search will give you a list of people to review and possibly interview. What should you look for? Someone who fits your special needs.

As FINRA points out: “You’ll want to make sure you fully understand which areas of your financial life a particular planner can — and cannot — help with before you hire that person.” FINRA is the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.  

CFP Board Ambassador and CBS News business analyst, Jill Schlesinger, added: “CFPs are trained to take a holistic approach in looking at your financial life.”

But you still have to ask about the services offered to make sure you’re at the right place. Be sure you understand how the CFP will get paid. Schlesinger added: “It’s important to ask, ‘How am I going to pay for your services?’”

We’ll talk more about financial planners in future blogs. If you have any thoughts or experiences, please share them with me (readers@juliejason.com). When you write to me, please include your city and state.