6 Secrets to Choosing a Financial Planner

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How to Find a Great Financial Planner

How to Find a Great Financial Planner

By: John D. Buerger, CFP®

I believe that every person in this country could use some financial planning help to make the smartest choices possible with their money.

From my perspective as a wealth coach and Certified Financial Planner professional today, I wish that I had known a financial planner 25 years ago when I was starting out on my own. I would have made very different financial decisions along the way and would be in a much better place today if I had.

Having been both a financial planner and financial planning client, I put together this list of the six secrets to choosing a financial planner:

1. Their Passion Is to Help.

The best doctors get into medicine because they want to help people live healthier and better lives. They don’t do it for the money. The best lawyers have a fire burning inside from an early age to defend their case at all costs. They want – deeply and passionately – to fight for you in a court of law. Similarly, the best financial planners care about helping you build your wealth and make smart financial decisions. Good financial planners are passionate about process, not products (and resulting commissions).

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2. They Are Educated.

There are a lot of moving parts to your money. Financial planning works across many different disciplines. Your choices about cash flow alone can have consequences in your tax bill, your retirement income later in life, your ability to pay for your kids’ college education and even possible legal issues. The best financial planner has deep knowledge in human behavior, insurance, taxes, investing and much more. This is not something you can learn in a 40 hour course.

3. They Are Devoted to You.

There has been a lot of talk about the “F” word in financial services. That word is “Fiduciary.” At the core, what it means to be a fiduciary is that the best financial planner will only do what is in the best interest of the client. A product or service will be suggested because it is the best product or service for the needs of the client, not because it earns the advisor a bonus, perk or commission.

4. They Are Independent. 

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It might seem like a big, well-known company with lots of resources would be better equipped to help you than a small, independent financial planning firm. But the big companies have one motive – profit – creating incentives for their financial advisors that work against their devotion to you and your best interests.

The very best Certified Financial Planner professionals out there – the ones who are the cream of the financial planning crop – all created or now work with independent firms.

5. They Never Tell You What to Do.

You probably don’t like to be told what to do. Nobody does (especially me). We bristle from “command and control” management starting at a very early age (remember when you were a kid and Mom told you to clean your room?).

You make dozens if not hundreds of economic choices every day. Your financial planner could never make all those decisions for you… and you wouldn’t like it if they tried. Instead, the best financial planner will give you tools so you can make better choices for yourself – in alignment with whatever is most important to you in life.

6. They Are Not You.

The best part about working with a good financial planner is that they see the world from a different perspective than you. We all see the world through our own unique lens, colored by past experiences and our current emotions. Many times the best thing is to have someone else look at your situation through a different lens and to share that perspective with you.

You Can Do This.

Far too many people go through life without the help of a financial planner professional to help them with their personal finances. Many believe they cannot afford this kind of help. While there is still a focus with many financial planners on the highest net worth households, more and more financial planning services for the middle market are being offered at reasonable rates. Some clients settle for “free” financial advice tied to product sales – advice that is neither free nor usually helpful.

Work with a financial planner who meets all six of these attributes. When you do, you will make better choices with your money and be in far better control of your family’s financial future.

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John Buerger is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional licensed with a registered investment adviser that provides personal financial advice online for a fee. John is a wealth coach and an online advice pioneer who teaches his clients to make better money choices. Contact John for help with virtually any financial advice need.

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