Planning one’s financial future isn’t an easy task. It can be even more difficult if your financial acumen isn’t up to the mark. This is where financial planners come into play. While making Credit Card and loan payments on time is certainly important, hiring the right planner is crucial to achieving financial success for the future.
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Why is financial planning important for individuals?
For starters, it helps you to establish your short-term and long-term goals, which in turn helps you create a fool-proof plan to meet these goals.
Diligent financial planning also allows you to plan your taxes well, keep a check on your spending, and create effective monthly budgets. Plus it keeps you prepared for the rainy days too.
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How can a financial planner help you?
Want to make your financial dreams come true? A qualified financial adviser can help you manage your finances wisely so you can achieve your dreams without any hiccups. They will even help you chart out your investment plan step-by-step so that you can make the most out of your investments.
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How to select the right planner
Before selecting a financial planner, you need to understand your financial goals carefully. Here are some factors to take into consideration before choosing one:
Background check – You need to know your financial planner inside out. What are their qualifications? What are their credentials? How many years of expertise do they have?
Before you finalise on your planner, you need to run a background check on them. Most renowned financial planners will have a Certified Financial Planner qualification from the Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB).
However, the best way to hire a planner is through references from family, friends, or colleagues.
Set up a meeting – It is necessary to meet with your financial planner before you hire them. Some financial planners work closely with their clients while some of them may be working as a team along with other planners.
The only way to figure out who will be handling your account, and whether your planner will be working closely with you, is by setting up a meeting with them.
Find out their area of expertise – Not every planner is well-versed with all investment products. Some of them may be well-versed with insurance products while others may be more familiar with Mutual Funds. You need to choose your financial planner based on your financial needs and goals.
Fees – You’ll certainly have to cough up money from your pocket to employ the services of a financial planner. Also, you’ll need to find out how they are going to charge you for their services.
The different ways to pay them include fixed fees, commissions, or both. Work out an estimated cost and see if you will be able to spend that much on your planner. We would advise that you compare your options before zeroing in on a planner.
Avoid salesmen – You are looking for a professional to help you plan your finances, not someone who is interested in selling products to you unnecessarily. There is a really thin line that separates financial planners from financial agents.
If your planner only talks about certain products then that should ring alarm bells in your head. An ideal planner provides you with a list of services, ranging from money management to debt management.
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Operation set-up – You’ll also need to find out from where your planner operates. Do they have an office set-up or are they working from home?
In short, you’ll have to analyse your needs first, then approach trustworthy and qualified planners. Make sure you check their credentials, compare your options, and then pick the right one for yourself.
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Common questions that you must ask planners before hiring them
Once you’ve hired a financial planner, they are going to bombard you with questions.
But, before you hire one, you should be the one who gets to ask the following questions:
- How will you be able to help me? You’ll get an understanding of the planner’s skills and experience and whether they will be able to handle your requirements. You will also be able to understand if they are capable enough to figure out a solid plan for you or not.
- How much help will you provide me with? Is your planner going to chart out a plan and leave you with it? Or will they help you put the plan into action? Will they do the necessary paperwork as well?
- What about your other clients? Getting to know the planner’s clientele will give you an idea of his work experience. You will have different financial goals at different stages of your life. So, a planner who has handled clients of different age groups and different goals makes sense.
- How much do you charge? Nothing in this world comes for free. Besides, financial planners are professionals who are being hired for their services. You need to be clear about their charges – whether they have a fixed fee or whether they depend on commissions, etc.
- Is your service personalised? You need to know whether the planner will be working closely with you or not. A good planner is usually involved with all their client’s financial decisions.
- How often will you evaluate my plan? A good planner should ideally do a yearly evaluation of your financial plan.
It pays to do due diligence to find a good financial planner. You need to find a planner who not only comes up with the best financial plan for you but also reviews your plan periodically, recommends changes, and answers all your queries as well.
What not to expect from your planner?
- Sorry, they aren’t magicians. So, don’t expect them to solve all your problems.
- Your financial planner is going to be straight-forward with you. If your finances are messed up, they are going to be upfront about it.
- Fake promises. They aren’t going to promise you assured returns. It isn’t in their hands; returns depend on the markets.
- Top performance from the first day. Results take time, so don’t expect your planner to show you instant performance.
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What happens when you meet your planner?
Usually, the first meeting with your financial planner revolves around getting to know you, your current financial condition, budgets, and your long-term goals and needs.
Here are some of them most likely questions your financial planner will put across during your first meeting:
- What is your income?
- Do you have any assets or liabilities at present?
- How much tax do you pay in a year?
- Do you have any current investments?
- How do your finances look at the moment?
- Do you have any urgent needs?
- What is your typical monthly budget like?
- What do you want to achieve in the future?
- Do you want to consider any of your family members while creating your plan?
- What is your experience when it comes to investments?
- Are you willing to take risks or do you prefer playing it safe?
- When do you want to retire?
These are just some of the questions that your planner may ask to help you better understand your current financial situation and your future plans well. In short, they try to get a snapshot of your finances. Unless they are clear about your present situation, they won’t be able to guide you appropriately.
Once they have the required information, they would require a cash flow analysis.
- What is your income?
- What is your expenditure?
- How much money are you left with after your monthly expenses?
These questions will help them understand how much you can save or invest in a month. Also, this analysis could help figure out where you are spending unnecessarily and help you make changes in your budget.
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Now that they have figured out your current financial situation and your cash flow, they can focus on your investments. This includes setting goals. Each of your goals needs to come with a time frame.
For example, if you plan on buying a house, you need to mention the time frame within which you plan to make the purchase. You need to prioritise your financial goals and provide a time frame for each of them. Only then can your financial planner chart out a fool-proof investment plan to help you reach your goals on time.
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Once your goals and timelines are set, your planner will provide a plan which outlines the following:
- How much you need to save every month
- For what you will be saving
- Where you will be investing your savings
- Why you will be investing in certain products.
In short, you will have a strong understanding of your current financial situation, what you want to achieve in the future and how you are going to achieve those goals.
Always remember that it is your money and you make the decisions. Your financial planner is your guide who will help you to make the right decisions.