Do I need a financial planner?

It appears many agents who sell insurance, investment product, investment advice or considers themselves a financial advisor also may hold themselves out as a financial planner. I am not saying that you must have a certification or degree in planning, but an insurance license to sell annuities does not typically prepare a salesperson with any real planning knowledge. Passing an exam that allows someone to sell investment product typically takes 4 to 6 weeks of study on general securities matters. Passing an exam to charge a fee to manage does not prepare that investment advisor representative to create a comprehensive financial plan. There are degrees and designations that are specifically designed to prepare someone to create a financial plan. However, most things in life also require experience and ongoing education. Being well-versed in planning can be a plus for those clients who need a financial plan, but how comprehensive does this plan need to be?

What I have experienced, having been in the business of managing money for 25 years, is that some clients DO in fact need a very comprehensive plan that requires more than what I am comfortable in providing. Conversely, many financial planners typically do not manage assets, but are potentially well-versed in taxation and estate planning. My point is that a good planner plans, and a good portfolio manager manages money.

Billions of dollars are spent annually on advertisement by many firms seeking your investable assets. Most of these advertisements want you to believe that their firm and their financial advisors really care about you, and that they are very trustworthy. But what you must realize is that the financial advisors with these firms likely are salespeople that work for the firm, not for you, the client! When working with someone’s retirement money or savings, my bet is that the client would probably rather be working with an advisor that is bound by law to treat them in a fiduciary manner, or certainly in their best interest. Plainly put, do you want an advisor that works for you, or their firm? You may have seen articles in the paper like mine, except they are not written by the financial advisor themselves, but they are written by the home office of the firm that employs them. That is because their broker-dealer does not allow them the ability to distribute any information that does not come from and through the compliance office of their firm. Some of these financial advisors enjoy the comfort and restrictions placed on them by their firm because they feel they are protected. My opinion, is that working for my client, knowing that I am doing what is in their best interest, stating my business and fee structure transparently allows me to manage my clients assets on their behalf is comforting.

So if you’re searching for someone to help you retirement planning, asset or income allocations, taxation or estate planning, you will need to find the right person and firm for your needs with the right tools and experience that works for you!