I’m not into the stuffy office with people in suits bustling around. Then to meet with a man with grey hair behind a huge desk and for him to look at me with that glance that says “what’re you doing here?”. He and I both know that I’m not rich, that I’m clueless and that I want to ask him a thousand questions. And that’s just in the first ten seconds. Just no thank you. I want to meet with someone that’s excited to help me. Who has energy and passion and is more interested in listening to what I need than to how much I’ll be paying him when this is all over. Someone who doesn’t care what I know or how much money is in my bank accounts.
When I’m looking for a financial planner, this is what I’m looking for…
1. What is their specialty?
Do they work with the specific issues that you need help with? Most planners specialize with certain types of clients. Like millennials, instead of rich people over 50.
2. What kind of planner are they?
There are tons of planners/advisors/wealth managers/etc. it’s confusing trying to figure it out, not to mention time consuming. And I never have free time anyway, especially to try to research and understand what they all do. I always look for a licensed CFP that is “fee only”. That means they do not get a percentage of your investments. And their primary goal will not be selling you insurance. Their primary goal is to create a roadmap for you and help keep you on track or adjust the roadmap as necessary.
3. Are you comfortable with them?
Find someone that you have a connection with and feel good about. You have to be able to be open and honest with this person so it’s imperative that you trust them. And walking into an office with an old man in a suit is the opposite of comfortable for me. I want someone young who can understand what I’m going through here and now. I want someone that’s down to earth, willing to teach me and not make me feel like an idiot.
4. Will they challenge you?
You need a coach. We all do. And when it comes to staying on track with our goals and values, we need someone there to provide accountability. We need someone checking in on us to make sure we’re still on track. It’s the only way. Find a planner who works with clients over at least a years’ time. You will meet with them periodically throughout the year and make sure you’re on track.
5. Do they have the heart of a teacher?
You will no doubt have a lot of questions for your financial planner. They will have complicated answers for you. Choose someone who can give you a simple answer and ensure that you understand what they’re saying. Financial jargon is boring and complex so it’s nice to have a planner that can break it down into English.
6. How do they charge?
The “fee only” planners are the ones that I would choose to use. They usually charge a flat fee and then a monthly fee or by the hour fee. Prices can range anywhere from $1,000-$5,000 for a comprehensive financial plan. And $150-$500 per hour after that. If you want to know how much someone charges, just ask!
7. What ongoing support do they provide?
Do they just print you out a plan and send you on your way? Do they offer tools so you can play with your numbers at home? Do they periodically check in with you to see how you’re doing? A planner should develop a long term relationship with you to ensure you stay on track with your plan.
The field of financial planner is overwhelming and so many people think it’s just for rich people. But the people who need it most are not the rich, they’re the middle class. Don’t be afraid to seek out a planner. The good ones are out there.