The questions below will help you interview and evaluate a financial planner to see if they are the right one for you. You will want to select a competent, qualified professional with whom you feel comfortable whose expertise and business style suits your financial planning needs.
1. What experience do you have?
Find out how long the planner has been in practice and the number and types of companies with which they have been associated. Ask the planner to briefly describe past work experience and how it relates to their current practice. If your financial planner will be offering you investment advice, it is advisable to work with someone who has been through a recession or down stock market.
2. What are your qualifications?
The term “financial planner” is used by many financial professionals. Ask what qualifies him to offer financial planning advice and whether he holds a designation such as the Certified Financial Planner or Chartered Financial Analyst marks. These professional designations show dedication to the profession and the ability to pass detailed examinations. Determine what steps the planner takes to stay current with changes and developments in the financial planning field. If the planner holds a financial planning designation or licenses, check on his background with the NASD AIMR , SEC or other relevant professional organizations.
3. What services do you offer?
The services a financial planner offers will depend on a number of factors including credentials, licenses and areas of expertise. Financial planners cannot offer insurance or securities products such as mutual funds or stocks without the proper licenses, or give investment advice unless registered with state or Federal authorities. There are some planners who offer financial planning advice on a range of topics but are not licensed and do not sell financial products. Others provide advice only in specific areas such as estate planning or on tax matters.
4. Are you Independent of financial product sponsors?
Product sponsors include stock brokerage firms (discount and full service), insurance companies and banks. Ask the financial planner about the type of clients and financial situations he or she typically likes to work with. Some planners prefer to develop one plan by bringing together all of your financial goals. Others provide advice on specific areas. Make sure the planner?s viewpoint on investing matches your own and is not too cautious or overly aggressive for you. Some planners require you to have a certain net worth before offering services.
5. Will you be the only person working with me?
The financial planner may work with you himself or have others in the office assist with your activities. You can meet everyone who will be working on your investments or plan. If the planner works with professionals outside his own practice (such as attorneys, insurance agents or tax specialists) ask to get a list of their names to check on their backgrounds.
6. How will I pay for your services?
As part of your financial planning agreement, be sure you see in writing how they will be paid for the services provided. Planners can be paid in several ways:
? a salary paid by the company for which the planner works. The planner?s employer receives payment from you in fees or commissions to pay the planner?s salary.
? fees based on an hourly rate, a flat rate, or on a percentage of your assets and/or income.
? commissions paid by a third party from the products sold to you to carry out the financial planning recommendations. Commissions are usually a percentage of the amount you invest in a product.
? a combination of fees and commissions whereby fees are charged for the amount of work done to develop financial planning recommendations and commissions are received from any products sold.
7. How much do you charge for your services?
While the amount you pay the planner will depend on your needs, the financial planner should provide you with an estimate of possible costs based on the work to be performed. Such costs include the planner?s hourly rates, flat fees or the percentage he would receive as commission on products you may purchase as part of the financial planning recommendations.
8. How are you licensed?
Many financial planners offer advice in securities or insurance when they are not licensed in these areas. Some states may not require licensing but consumers may want their advisor be properly regulated and licensed. Licensed persons pass examinations and have many hours of continuing education annually. However, there are some licensed advisors who are are merely salesmen in an advisors suit.
Ask the planner to provide you with a description of her conflicts of interest in writing. For example, financial planners who are employees of banks, insurance companies or investment firms often favor their own company products, even when less competitive. The planner may also have relationships or partnerships that should be disclosed to you, such as business he or she receives for referring you to an insurance agent, stockbroker, accountant or attorney for implementation of planning suggestions.
9. Have you been publicly disciplined for any unlawful or unethical actions in your professional career?
Several government and professional regulatory organizations, such as the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), your state insurance and Read more…