A Good Financial Planner is a Qualified, Experienced Professional
Any reputable financial advisor worth their salt should be only too happy to provide you with details of their experience and credentials. Look for an industry standard qualification, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) certification or a registered investment advisor that is also a fiduciary, to ensure that your chosen advisor has the appropriate core competencies and expertise to provide you with first-rate advice and act in your best interests.
A Good Financial Planner Puts You First
The principal function of financial planning is to create a projection, or plan of action, that demonstrates how, and when, you can achieve your financial goals. In order to base any such projection on even ballpark figures for income, expenditure, savings and so on, a financial professional must, by definition, be able to see the ‘big picture’.
A qualified professional is trained to gather data about you before recommending any specific financial product or service, rather than foisting their favored, commission-rich, proprietary offering on you at the earliest opportunity. ‘Sell first, ask later’ may be a classic broker mantra, but is an entirely inappropriate approach for a registered financial advisor that is a fiduciary, that is legally obligated to put your interess first.
Anyone who introduces a product or service early in your initial conversation with them is more likely to be a salesperson than a registered investment advisor and should be treated with a high degree of caution.
A Good Financial Planner Has a Clear, Well-defined Strategy
Financial planning is a process by which, if carried out diligently, an advisor helps you to arrive at your financial goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. A well-versed advisor will follow a tried and tested planning process to create a comprehensive, well-coordinated course of action to steer your financial future in the desired direction.
Consequently, he or she can recommend financial products or services at the time when they are most appropriate to you and your needs, but still retain enough flexibility to revise your financial plan if your circumstances change.
A Good Financial Planner Takes a Holistic View
Savings, investment and, insurance are, undoubtedly, important aspects of financial planning, but an astute practitioner accepts that they are not the ‘be all and end all’ of the process. Of course, some advisors still focus heavily on investments, by those who take a wider, ‘holistic’ view of financial planning will take the time to learn about your financial goals, in both the short- and long-term and other aspects of your financial situation.
Items for discussion might include your credit needs, debt obligations, estate, tax or retirement planning and your attitude to risk, among many other topics.