by GARY LEWIS , CFP®
ASSET DESIGN CENTER
ASSET DESIGN CENTER
FINANCIAL PLANNING IS FOR YOU
Financial Planning is for everyone! It doesn’t matter if you are a high net worth individual or a regular 9 to 5 employee, your current financial condition and future financial goals should be an important part of your life. Many of us choose to avoid confronting our financial condition, especially now when retirement account balances and home values have decreased while debt levels have increased. By understanding what your current financial position looks like, precisely defining your financial goals and developing an action plan to achieve them; you will be able to sleep better at night knowing that your financial future is secure.
IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT INVESTMENTS
Some think that financial planning is all about investments. They think that because they have a stock broker or mutual fund salesman that they have a financial planner. This is very far from the truth. A real financial planner will be interested not only in your investments or your insurance, a real financial planner will want to know as much about you as possible. A real financial planner will help you identify your financial weaknesses.
A real financial planner will review your current investments, your tax returns, your insurances and other financial-related and estate planning documents to make sure that your needs are being met in an efficient manner. An ideal financial planner will not have alterior motives such as gathering your investments to manage, selling you annuities or insurance, or writing wills and trusts. The ideal financial planner should be an individual who has obtained the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) certification; who has extensive experience in investments, taxes, insurance, estate planning and other important areas (or has a team of experienced individuals to meet your needs) and who is a fee-only planner.
Many investment advisers and insurance agents hold themselves out as financial planners. Always keep in mind that they do not make their living by being a financial planning consultant, they make their living and keep their jobs by selling you products and services. They use financial planning as a "sales tool" to gain your trust so they can sell you products or services.
YOUR CURRENT ADVISERS
If you have an investment adviser or insurance salesman that you really trust, then by all means, maintain the relationship. After all, product specialists are important and should remain on your team as long they are doing the right thing for you. But how can you ever be sure?
It is for this reason that you should retain a fee-only financial planner to review your situation. Your financial planner should act as your financial quarterback, coordinating the services of your investment manager, insurance agent, accountant, attorney and other advisers. It is not his or her job to sell you products and money management. You need to have someone working for you!
Hardly a week goes by where I don't hear about someone who made a very costly financial mistake, often costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars. I can only shake my head. If only they weren't so cheap and had a financial planner.
A good financial planner will save you more than the cost. A good financial planner will show you right up front, just by looking at your income taxes or pay stub, how you can probably save money. If the planner is going to talk to you just about investments and how you can probably make more money, look for another. Remember, it's not just about investments. No one can consistently beat the market. You must plan to succeed within the limitations of the market, not by trying to beat the market.
HIRE A COACH TO HELP YOU ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS
Your financial planner should not only meet with you during the planning process but also several times after plan delivery to keep you on track. Even the best professionals, no matter what they do, have coaches. Don't ever think that you can't afford it or that you aren't rich enough. If you aren't rich yet, do you think you will ever do it without a coach?
THE FINANCIAL PLANNING PROCESS
If you hire a planner with the CFP(®) designation, you will be taken through a process. This process is defined in the next step, Getting Started. Other sections of this website will take you through the different areas that your financial planner will review. Should you ever have a question, please feel free to comment here at the site or contact us by email at the Asset Design Center.