It's important to be aware of the different types of advisors and what they can do for you. Financial services is a broad industry and many individuals represent themselves as financial planners. According to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, only Certified Financial PlannerTM professionals have completed extensive training and are held to the highest ethical and educational standards.
It's important to meet with more than one person to make sure you are comfortable and capable of developing a good rapport over time. This person will get to know a lot about you and your family, so take the time to ask some key questions regarding how they charge for services, what credentials they carry, what services they provide and how much contact they have with their clients. Is this person part of a team or a small office? Most importantly, ask if they are a fiduciary and legally obligated to make decisions in your best interest. This will ensure you are getting good advice and not the latest sales pitch.
Once you've determined who you'd like to work with, a financial planner will take the time to get to know you, your family and your goals for the future. On a basic level, financial planning is the best use of your resources to accomplish your goals. A financial plan will be valuable in helping you to answer important questions as you transition through life. The fun part of financial planning is that it's customized to you, where you are in life and it also reflects your values. As you work with a financial planner, he or she should focus on your big picture encompassing estate planning, investment management, retirement planning, risk management, philanthropic strategies and family dynamics.
Whether you are just starting out or settling down, most people want to know if and when they can afford to retire. A financial planner can help you save your money and invest it appropriately for the long term.
As time passes and your family grows, you may need to consider college funding or how to take care of your spouse, should something happen to you. Many parents of adult children also become concerned about how they can enhance rather than ruin their children through their estate plan and the transfer of wealth. A good financial planner can talk you through the impact of money, emotion and family history and whether or not your plans will bring out the best in everyone and be a tool for sound lessons and wise decisions that strengthen family bonds.
Finally, as you are near retirement there are many important considerations surrounding what you've contributed to your company's retirement plan, other sources of retirement income that may be available through a pension or Social Security and how your health insurance and long term care needs will be met.
Once you have a financial plan, the peace of mind is priceless! You will find it easier to make financial decisions and stay on track to meet your goals. Ideally, you should revisit your financial plan as you progress through life because your plan will need to be updated and revised with changes in your family, at work and the financial climate.
Contributed by Andrea McKinney
CFP®, Vice President & Wealth Management Consultant
Central Trust Company
Products and services offered by Central Trust Company are not insured by the FDIC, are not deposits of or guaranteed by any depository institution or affiliate bank and are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of the principal amount invested. Insurance products are available through and underwritten by non-affiliated insurance companies.