4 tips for finding and working with a financial planner during a recession

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A recession is not the time to panic about your finances, and if you’re feeling emotional when it comes to your money, a financial planner may be able to help you feel better prepared. Making quick decisions based on market volatility could be a recipe for disaster, and it’s important to remain unbiased, but that’s easier said than done. Financial planners have both the experience and the knowledge to help you plan ahead, so you can have confidence in how you will handle any potential recession.

Find a fiduciary

When we use the word fiduciary in the world of finance, we mean that the professional handling your money must put your interests (the client) above their own financial interests. This encompasses many things, but most often means that the advisor or planner does not receive commissions based on the products they recommend to a client, that they disclose any potential conflicts of interest, and that they offer several options for each client after assessing their goals and risk tolerance.

When looking for a financial advisor, it’s easy to find one with a fiduciary duty, as many organizations require a fiduciary duty for that planner, advisor, or firm to hold the title. If a company is registered with the SEC, it is a fiduciary, and if a person holds a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional designation, they are also fulfilling a fiduciary duty. You can check the credentials on the SEC or CFP board websites.

Understand how advisors charge

Not all advisors are the same. Understanding how advisors charge is helpful when looking for an advisor or financial planner. Some are paid advisors who charge either a percentage of your assets or an hourly fee for managing your money and providing financial planning services. Others earn product commissions, which means that when they earn a commission on a product, they do not provide fiduciary duty during that time. Advisors may also work in groups, such as in an RIA where several representatives of individual investment advisors work within the same firm. There are also robo-advisors, but you might not get the same level of insight you would get with a human.

Refine the process

When you’ve selected a few planners or advisors, it’s time to fine-tune the process. Do planners have a minimum account? What services are included? Do they work with a team that includes other finance professionals, such as accountants or insurance agents? Before choosing the right planner for you, you will need an expectation of the comprehensive services you will receive, how often you will meet, and how the relationship might evolve over the years. Make sure you are comfortable with how often the planner communicates with you, especially when the market might be down.

Get your questions answered

The goal of finding the right financial advisor for you is to find one that you are comfortable with over the long term. Good communication and ensuring that your planner listens to your concerns and answers your questions is part of this long-term relationship. When interviewing potential planners, ask lots of questions – from how they manage your portfolio during a recession to how often you’ll change your asset allocation throughout the relationship. Express any concerns you may have about the markets, your money, your future and see how they deal with these issues. If you find that the counselor is just brushing off your worries, that’s a sign that they may not be right for you.

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