What To Look for In An Ideal Financial Life Planner

By now you probably have seen multiple articles on the advantages of having a financial life planner. If you’ve come this far, it’s likely you’ve given serious thought to the idea of working with one.

The next step then would be to schedule an initial consultation. But once you have that meeting, how do you know that the financial life planner you talk to is the right one for you?

The Must Haves For A Financial Life Planner

To start off, there are a few basic qualifications your prospective financial life planner definitely should have.

Are They A Fiduciary?

First and foremost, you should make sure that your financial life planner is a fiduciary advisor. Fiduciary advisors at medium to large-sized firms are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), are subject to its compliance standards, and are legally required to act in your best interest.

Do They Charge On A Fee-Only Basis?

Ideally the planner you select should be fee-only. This means that they do not receive compensation from other sources other than from their clients (no commissions or transaction charges). The fee might vary depending on your net worth.

This way, you are charged the same regardless of the number or type of financial transactions handled by the advisor. There is no additional incentive for the advisor to steer you towards any particular investment or to make extra transactions.

A flat fee is more transparent for the client, and removes any possible motivation to limit the number of meetings between you and the financial life planner.

Qualifications: Are They Certified?

The most important qualification to look for in a financial life planner is to confirm if they are a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. A CFP® meets rigorous education, training and ethical standards and is committed to serving their clients’ best interests. They must meet minimum experience standards and undergo regular training to continuously improve their financial knowledge and skills.

At Financial Life Focus, all of our financial life planners are fiduciary, fee-only, and CFP® certified.

Can You Confide In Your Financial Life Planner?

Now that basic qualifications have been established, What’s now important is to determine if you have the right vibe with the financial life planner.

Think about how your call with the advisor went. How did you feel when talking to the advisor?  There should have been a general feeling that you felt comfortable freely expressing your values and priorities. You should feel that when the financial life planner asks a question or broaches a topic, you can freely say what you really want to say, as opposed to saying what you think might be expected.

Many financial life planners are trained in motivational interviewing techniques. A primary tenet of motivational interviewing is to accept where each client is, and that every client has a different perspective and situation. We accept what we hear from each client at face value and should not pass judgment on what you say. Our goal is to help you express what you want, not coach you on what to express. While we might ask follow up questions to seek clarification on what you mean, we should not correct, judge, or steer you towards different answers. Did you feel any judgment or attempt to change what you were expressing during your discovery meeting? If not, then that’s a positive sign.

Your Financial Life Planner Should Be A Go To Resource

As financial life planners, we don’t just create a plan and point you in the right direction. While that is certainly an option if you prefer, we can stay with you to help you along every step of the way.

No idea on how to get started, or just want some guidance on the best way to do something? Either way, you should feel like you can ask your financial life planner a question, and they will work with you to craft a solution that works for you.

If you feel that the person you speak with can be your go to resource for financial matters, then that’s a great sign that they are the right financial life planner for you.

And Help You With Major Decisions

You’ll no doubt have a situation where you need to make a decision that impacts your finances. Whereas a regular financial planner might ask you to make that decision on your own before proceeding, a financial life planner can assist you with the actual decision making process.

Whether by yourself or with your spouse, a good financial life planner can facilitate you through the steps needed to accomplish a collaborative decision. Conversations with loved ones can become contentious very quickly when we apply our judgment on other people’s perspective of their world. In those moments, having a compassionate and unbiased third party can be helpful in reaching a collaborative plan.

A skillful financial life planner can facilitate tough conversations and mediate disagreements. If you feel like you can trust the financial life planner to handle such a situation, then that’s a sign that they might be the right person for you.

Is It Time For A Thinking Partner?

Your financial planner will not only be an analyst and advisor, but a partner who can be with you every step of the way on your financial journey towards achieving your dreams. As someone who will be familiar with your values, priorities, and goals, they will be a key ally in helping you make sure you stay on track towards your goals. It’s important to have a qualified thinking partner who you can trust both as a subject matter expert and as someone you can confide in to help guide you along your journey towards financial wellness and happiness.

Are you ready to take the next step towards financial well being? Contact us to get started.