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What to Look For in A Financial Planner – How to Choose an Advisor – Certification Education and Experience op Planners

May 24th 2006

What to Look For in A Financial Planner – How to Choose an Advisor – Certification Education and Experience op Planners

Financial Planning

There are various organizations that Financial Planners may be associated with.  The most prominent association is the Certified Financial Planners (CFP) Board of Standards, which is the premier organization.  They provide rigorous testing of applicants including a background check.

You will want to know about the planner’s experience and qualifications.  The CFP recommends you ask the planner to briefly describe his or her work experience, and how it relates to their current practice.  Although the term “financial planner” is used by many financial professionals, not all will be certified by the CFP.  The Board says you should choose a well rounded planner with “proven experience” in insurance, tax planning, investments, estate planning or retirement planning.

Your financial planner will likely ask you a series of questions which could lead to a comprehensive plan.  These questions will include your financial objectives, current income, investments, risk tolerance, expenses, tax returns, insurance coverage, retirement programs, and estate plans.


The questionnaire will help your planner develop a set of recommendations.  But it does not stop there. According to Princeton Review, financial planners must constantly be updating their plan and watching the all-important market for trends that will affect the plan they have offered. 

The financial planner needs to consider and have knowledge of investment planning, retirement planning, tax planning, estate planning, and risk management.  You may want to ask the planner what their approach to financial planning is.  The services they provide may depend on a number of factors including credentials, licenses and areas of expertise. 


Generally, financial planners are advisors and are not involved in selling insurance and securities products without the proper license.  Some planners may specialize though.

Financial planners can be paid in several ways.  Some planners work for a company and are paid a salary.  You pay the company either fees or commissions, and they pay the planner.  Others may charge an hourly rate or a flat fee based on a percentage of your assets. 


Financial planners may be paid a commission by a third party who sold you products.  Some planners may be paid a combination of fees and commissions where the commissions are paid as a percentage of the products either by a third party or by you.

People skills are an integral part of the planner’s job.  Make sure the planner is not too aggressive or too cautious. Also, the Board advises you to get a list of professionals outside his own practice (such as attorneys, insurance agents or tax specialists) who help develop or carry out financial planning recommendations.   Get the list of names to check on their backgrounds.

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Dan Wilson
Best Syndication

Books on Investing

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