Thanks again to everyone who contributed questions to our Financial Planner Q&A post on Facebook! This week’s post answers one of your questions, “Who can benefit from working with a financial planner?” I’ll share my experience and observations working with clients.
Some people think you have to have a lot of money to work with a financial planner. That is not necessarily the case. It’s true that many financial planners have high net worth requirements, but others make their fee structures accessible to work with anyone. You don’t have to have a lot of money to benefit from working with a financial planner.
The clients I work with usually come to me with a few specific questions that often go something like this:
1. “I recently landed my first job and have some student loans and a little credit card debt. I could spend less and save more. Where do I begin?“
2. “I chose the funds in my retirement account a number of years back. I don’t even know what I chose! How should I invest this money?“
3. “My fiancé(e) and I have some savings, but want to be sure we are saving enough for a number of upcoming goals, like buying a house and starting a family, in addition to retirement. How can be we more effective with our savings?“
4. “I’m approaching retirement age and I want to be sure I have enough money to last. Do I need to save aggressively or will I be okay?“
Some folks have a more general inquiry and want me to take a look at what they currently have in place and make suggestions about how they can improve.
I find the clients who benefit most from working with me are willing to take action. In other words they are participants in the planning process. This is critical. Without action all we have is advice without implementation. These clients ask questions and keep me updated when changes occur or when they have concerns.
Additionally, my best clients understand the importance of living within their means. They are willing to make adjustments and sacrifices necessary to pay down debt and save money. In other words they earn more than they spend. Not always by a lot. If you have a lot of debt a financial planner probably isn’t the best resource. If that is the case Consumer Credit Counseling Services of San Francisco might be able to help. They work with people all over the country or can refer you to resources in your area.
When I meet with a prospective client I give them an overview of all the areas of their finances I think they should consider. Then they can decide the areas of improvement they want to address now. Do you think you’d benefit from working with a financial planner? You can find an objective (won’t sell you products) and affordable (doesn’t have net worth requirements) by searching the NAPFA (National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) website for planners who charge an hourly or project fee. Or google “fee only or hourly CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER”. Many planners, including myself, offer a free consultation so that you can assess if working together is a good fit.
This post was written by SaveUp’s personal finance contributing writer, Catherine Hawley, CFP®.