I don’t know about you, but I’d never plan a road trip without my trusted GPS.
I tell it where I want to go, and it calculates the ideal route and when I should arrive. The best part is, if I take a wrong turn, it recalculates for me and, most importantly, never makes me feel bad about it either.
In your financial life, think of a Certified Financial Planner as your financial GPS. These pros help you figure out where you want to go with your money and crunch the numbers to figure out the best way to get you there. But most importantly, when life takes you off course, as it often does, they do all the recalculating for you.
But you’ll want to be sure that you empower yourself to shop around for a pro that’s right for you. Here’s a list of questions to ask a potential planner or advisor:
Here are 10 questions that will help you choose a competent, qualified professional.
1. What are your qualifications?
If you’ve chosen someone from the Find a Planner tool, you already know they’re FP Canada-certified. But ask about their other credentials.
2. What experience do you have?
Ask how long they’ve been in practice, where they’ve worked, and how their work history relates to their current practice.
3. What services do you offer?
Some financial planners offer financial advice, but sell no financial products.
4. What is your approach?
You want to know, for instance, whether this person will only draw up a plan for you, or also help you implement that plan. You want to ensure that they spend the time up front, getting to know you and your financial goals.
5. Will you be the only person working with me?
Often a CFP professional will act as a quarterback, sourcing others’ expertise to ensure you get the service you need.
6. How will I pay for your services?
Planners can be paid in several ways, from the cost of the financial product they sell you, as a percentage of the assets you entrust to them, or they could charge an
hourly or set fee. It’s important to understand how you’ll be paying for their expert service.
7. How much do you typically charge?
The planner should be able to provide you with an easy to understand estimate of their fees.
8. Who, besides me, will benefit?
Ask the planner if they have a written professional obligation to put your interests ahead of their own. If they’re a CFP professional, they’ll attest to this
obligation each year, when they renew their certification with FP Canada. You need to know that this is about putting your kids through college, not just theirs.
9. Are you regulated?
Planners who hold the CFP credential are subject to internationally recognized professional standards. But they could also be regulated by provincial authorities if they are, say, selling insurance or securities.
10. Can I have that in writing?
Ask the planner to give you a written agreement that details the services to be provided and how they charge for them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if
something isn’t clear in the agreement. And once you’ve established the initial agreement, ask your CFP professional how often they’ll be updating it.
To find a Certified Financial Planner® professional in your area that will help guide you financially, use the FP Canada Find Your Planner tool.