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There are quite a few misconceptions when it comes to working with a financial planner. On the one hand, you might think that financial planners only work with the wealthy. Or, you can expect them to simply develop investment strategies for clients. However, financial planners are actually versatile in their offerings and, no, you don’t already need to have millions of dollars to work with one.
Anyone can benefit from speaking with a financial planner. And in fact, getting advice from a financial planner as soon as possible can make a huge difference.
Select asked John Loper, CFP and Managing Director of Professional Practice at the CFP Board, to explain what you need to know about working with a financial planner.
How can a financial planner help you?
According to Loper, Certified Financial Planners (CFPs, for short) can typically help with a variety of issues.
“CFPs can help people who need a strategy to repay their loans or who need ways to generate income,” he said. “They can also help young families get settled, middle-aged people who need help maximizing their retirement savings, and those who need help with tax and estate planning.”
But their services don’t stop there. Here are some other areas where a Certified Financial Planner can help:
Loper also says CFPs can play a role in advising on so-called “trigger events,” events that can lead to significant changes in income or wealth. Triggering events may include, but are not limited to, large inheritances, divorce, and death.
There are several ways to find a financial planner. You might want to start by finding out if your employer offers financial planning services as a benefit. This might be a good, non-intimidating place to start working with a finance professional. Also, depending on company terms, the service may be free through your employer.
If you already have a specific problem that you need help with, you can try searching for a financial planner using Zoe Financial, who can connect you with a list of professionals who specialize in your concerns.
Another option is to use PlannerSearch.org to find a professional in your state. It will give you a list of CFPs near you, and you can also filter by specialties such as benefits, marriage, divorce, bankruptcy, home buying and more.
When should you consider talking to a financial planner?
Working with a financial planner can be an important and exciting step. Although not everyone needs to have an ongoing and regular relationship with a financial planner, there are times when it may be a good idea to get professional advice.
“I don’t know if everyone should hire a financial advisor, but everyone could benefit from consulting beforehand to see what services may apply to them,” Loper said. “Most planners offer free consultations. Until you sit down and have a first conversation, you’re just guessing what your next step should be.”
You need a fresh perspective on your finances
Maybe you already have an idea of what your next move should be or how best to manage the rest of your finances. Or maybe money management seems really confusing and overwhelming. If you’re not completely confident or wondering if there are better next steps to take, you might consider consulting a financial planner. Their expertise may be able to provide an option that you have not yet considered. After taking an overview of your financial profile, they may be able to tell you if there is anything else you should prioritize.
Loper cautions, however, that sometimes the best next step a person can take with their finances is to do nothing and maintain their current actions. A CFP would be able to clarify if this is really the best thing for their client.
A trigger event has occurred or will occur soon
Trigger events, such as marriage, death, divorce, and receiving a large inheritance, can have a big impact on how you manage your money — and sometimes even the progress you make toward your financial goals. .
As these events unfold, you may want to consider getting professional advice on how an influx or decrease in your wealth might impact what your next financial decision should be. Also, according to Loper, as you go through different phases of life, you begin to focus on different areas of your finances.
For example, you may be going through a divorce just as your children are about to start college. A financial planner can help you create a plan to fund your child’s college tuition.
You are approaching retirement
Of course, you can also consult a financial planner if you need help getting started saving for retirement. But if you’re going to retire soon, it might be worth consulting with a professional to come up with a plan for how you’re going to make your money last for the rest of your life. It may feel like a weight on your shoulders, even if you’ve used a robo-advisor like Wealthfront or Betterment to make investments that are a perfect match for your risk tolerance and goals. A CFP can help you better analyze your lifestyle expenses and savings so you can decide on a safe amount of money to withdraw each year.
A financial planner can also help you spot holes in your retirement plan. For example, you may need to save a little extra money, which could mean you have to stay in the workforce for a few more years.
At the end of the line
While not everyone needs an ongoing relationship with a Certified Financial Planner, almost anyone can benefit from a consultation – and initial input – with a CFP. Especially since there are a variety of issues that a finance professional can address.
Editorial note: Any opinions, analysis, criticism or recommendations expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the editorial staff of Select and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise approved by any third party.