Find a good fit
Financial-planning advice ranges from one-time sessions to a more robust client/planner relationship, depending on your financial-planning needs. When seeking a financial planner, it's very important to take a proactive approach.
The client/financial planner relationship needs to be a mutual one. Request an initial consultation so that you can ask questions to determine if a prospective planner is a good fit. Make sure to ask whether this introductory conversation is free or if a nominal charge applies. Many planners will request that you complete a questionnaire to help them better understand your financial situation and goals.
Here are a few important questions to keep in mind:
- What is your work experience (i.e., years in the industry, specialties and client profiles)?
- What are your qualifications (i.e., education, certifications and licenses)?
- Do you offer advice on all areas of financial planning (i.e., not just investments and insurance)?
- How do you charge (i.e., hourly fee, flat fee, retainer, assets under management, commissions)?
- Do you have an asset minimum or minimum fee?
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Many financial planners are affiliated with organizations that help individuals to understand the financial-planning process and to identify qualified financial planners who follow the organization's code of ethics.
Such organizations include, but are not limited to, the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.
While researching financial planners, you should also visit regulatory websites, such as the Security Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and state agencies.
These agencies provide information about disciplinary issues or complaints regarding a financial planner or a financial advisor. You can also check to see if the planner's answers to your questions match their filings with the applicable regulatory agency.
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Victory with regard to meeting your financial goals can be achieved with the right information and with the right team. Find a financial planner who appreciates your financial profile and shares your vision of success.
After all, why not you?
—By Lazetta Rainey Braxton, Special to CNBC.com.
Lazetta Rainey Braxton, a certified financial planner, is the founder and CEO of Financial Fountains. An advocate for financial planning and literacy, Braxton serves as president of the Association of African American Financial Advisors.