Choosing a Financial Planner
Financial planners offer a great deal of insight into the financial world, and they have access to a wide range of resources to support and manage a strategy that can help you reach your financial goals more quickly. Whether you're saving for retirement, a child's college fund or future estate needs, a financial planner can help analyze your current financial situation in relation to various markets and assist you in creating sound financial strategy.
The selection process
It is important to know what qualities to look for before selecting your financial advisor. Prepare and bring a list of questions to the initial meeting with a potential financial counselor and consider the following:
- Trust: Trust is central to a successful financial planning relationship. Consider whether you can see yourself speaking with and sharing details about your life with this individual, potentially for many years to come.
- Experience: It is important to know the level of experience the candidate has along with his or her qualifications. Ask your network about their financial planning experience and see if they can provide recommendations or suggestions to help you narrow down your options.
- Approach: Matching your financial personality with your financial advisor is critical, especially when it comes to strategy. You need to feel comfortable with the strategy and be sure that the planner's views are not too risky or too cautious for you and your family.
- Client requirements: Make sure you understand the potential financial advisor's net worth requirements before meeting with them. Some financial associates cater to a specific income bracket, which may also influence their investment strategy.
- Costs: Before committing to a financial planner, there also needs to be a discussion regarding service cost and payment method. Planners should have this information readily available and be open to providing this upon request.
Partnering on your plan
Once an advisor is selected, this is your chance to become more familiar with the financial planning process on a one-on-one basis. At the initial meeting, the first step should be to establish a relationship. Both you and your planner should understand your responsibilities in the planning process, and your advisor must be informed of how involved in the process you want to be. Determining this information right away helps set expectations for a good working partnership.
Secondly, the planner should ask about your current financial situation so financial goals regarding timeframe and risk tolerance are mutually defined. After your financial picture is established, the advisor evaluates this information to determine what must be done to help you reach your financial goals. The advisor should offer a financial plan recommendation that specifically addresses the goals expressed during this meeting. This is the time to ask questions and gain clarifications on the plan to ensure you understand everything that has been discussed and recommended.
Moving forward and monitoring
After a plan that meets expectations has been developed, the next step is implementation. At this point, you should know exactly who will monitor your portfolio's progress toward your goals and your point person for any necessary changes based on market shifts that occur for the duration of the plan.
Finally, ongoing monitoring of the portfolio is imperative. You and your advisor should set a schedule for future meetings to ensure necessary discussions are occurring regarding goal achievement and results.
Consider partnering with a financial planner to help you reach your short- and long-term objectives. When the selection process is handled correctly, it is likely that you will find a dedicated advisor whose investment style fits your personal preferences. A planning professional can help discern financial situations and goals so your portfolio is tailored to your unique needs.
Mary Lucas is senior vice president and director of financial planning in UMB's Private Wealth Management division.
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