Financial Planning

Having a financial plan is critical to financial success.   It is more than just putting money into a bank account and hoping for good returns.   It is a process that helps determine how life and personal financial goals can be achieved by effectively managing all aspects of your financial affairs.  Financial planning is not just for the wealthy, but is a smart plan for anyone looking to meet specific financial goals.

Broad thinking

How many of us think to the future and look at all the things we want to accomplish financially when we are 25?   When we hit major milestones in our life, like getting married, purchasing a home or maybe having children, what element of planning is taking place then?   The key success factor in effective financial planning is the ability to look at the bigger picture, where an identification of all of the aspects of your financial situation is done and analyzed.   The skills required to integrate a broad spectrum of financial topics is what distinguishes a financial planner from a more general set of financial advice offered at most financial institutions.

Tips for finding the right Financial Planner

It is important to understand at the early steps of looking for a Financial Planner that they are more than a teller at a bank, more than an investment advisor, more than an accountant and more than a loan provider.   Regardless of whether you are already working with a Financial Planner, or looking to engage the services of one, these useful tips will help you evaluate and determine if the Financial Planner has the right set of skills, is ethical and trustworthy to work with you directly to help you attain your goals.

  1. Identify your Financial Goals

    Write down your goals for today and the future, thinking about the things that are most important to you.  This might be a new home, cottage or boat.  Or it might be saving for your child’s education.

  2. Get prepared

    Get a high level understanding of some of the terms and strategies around financial planning.  This could be as simple as reading a book, researching online or asking a friend.  Good Financial Planners will explain things to you, but it will be easier to comprehend if you have some general knowledge beforehand.

  3. Get References

    Talk to others with whom you trust who might be using a Financial Planner or know of a Financial Planner that they might recommend to you.

  4. Be Diligent

    Whether you receive referrals or not, it is always good practice to verify the credentials of the Financial Planner to confirm whether or not the Planner is within good standing.

  5. Understand the Fee’s

    Financial Planners are compensated in a variety of different ways.   Fees may be based on a commission structure, a one-time fee or they may be paid on salary.  Understand the impact to you.

  6. A written plan

    Ensure you get a written engagement letter which outlines all of the terms of the engagement including the fee structure.

  7. Regular communication

    Needs change over time.  Ensure you have regular communication with your Planner so they understand all of your needs.  A good planner will have regular updates with you on the performance of your plan and will update accordingly.

  8. Comfort level

    Ultimately, it comes down to your overall comfort level with your Planner.  If you don’t feel comfortable discussing personal goals and issues with a Planner, it may be prudent to continue searching for a Planner that has the right fit for your needs.

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