How to choose the right financial planner for you

Let's talk about financial planning.

As the world gets increasingly expensive, financial goals are more important than ever. Are you saving for college or university? Retirement? Buying a home? Taking a big family vacation? No matter your financial goals, consulting with a financial planner can help you reach your goals.  

A financial planner can help you refine your goals, guide you in creating strategies for your money, and keep you accountable for your plan. They'll even help you navigate different saving and investment strategies to ensure your money works for you.

They'll also ensure you have the information you need to make the best financial decisions for your circumstances, so you can grow your wealth and increase your financial security.

If you're looking for a financial planner, here are a few tips to help you find the best person to meet your unique needs.

Be clear about your goals.

As stated above, most people's big financial goals fall into the following areas:

  • Retirement
  • Buying a home
  • Paying for college (for themselves or their children)

But along the way, a lot of other events come up that pull our financial focus, such as buying a car, paying for a trip, or covering expensive home repairs.

Whether your goal is to build up your emergency savings account, pay for the trip of a lifetime, or fund your retirement, a financial planner can help you allocate your money wisely.

Before you search for a financial planner, list your long-term and short-term financial goals. That will give you the framework for finding someone whose expertise matches your objectives.

Check their qualifications.

Remember, not every planner is licensed or has the proper credentials, training, or experience to meet your needs.

With your goals in mind, start researching financial planners in your area with relevant professional designations and appropriate qualifications. Then, check online for a complaint record against them or information that doesn't match their claims. Where you find the complaint record may depend on the government body that oversees their work.

Ask your friends and family for referrals – ideally, people you trust who are in the same life stage as you. Visit each financial planner's website and look for testimonials from people with similar circumstances. Finally, double-check with the appropriate certifying body that they have the required qualifications.

Ask questions.

Make a list of candidates and interview at least three financial planners. When you do, ask what qualifications they have, what their approach is, what services they include, and how they can help you achieve your goals.

Additionally, inquire about:

  • What products do they offer (and make sure they have the proper certifications to sell them)?
  • How they'll keep you informed?
  • How do they decide on appropriate investments or strategies for their clients?
  • Whether a regulator has ever disciplined them (again, you can often verify their answer to this last question online).
  • How they've helped clients in situations similar to yours.

Find out their payment structure.

Financial planners may charge you for services in a variety of ways, including:

  • An hourly fee
  • A fee based on the value of your assets under their management
  • A commission or trading fee based on buying stock or investments for you
  • A salary from their employer (such as those who work through banks)

Understanding how they are paid and what they charge might be a good idea, so you can determine if outside factors influence their advice.

Whether you're looking for help with investment planning, estate planning, retirement planning or other financial guidance, choosing the right financial planner is critical to taking control of your finances.

Remember, you want someone with experience in the areas you need guidance, who understands your financial goals, and who you feel comfortable talking with openly.

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