How to shop for a fi­nan­cial plan­ner

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Business - JULIE JA­SON

Let’s talk about shop­ping for a fi­nan­cial plan­ner.

If you re­call, we started this con­ver­sa­tion with J. M., a San Jose, Calif., reader, by lay­ing the reg­u­la­tory ground­work. How a fi­nan­cial plan­ner is reg­u­lated, if at all, is al­ways the place to start. ( If you missed the col­umn, email me at read­ers@julie­ja­, and I’ll send you a copy.)

While I have no con­nec­tion or af­fil­i­a­tion with any fi­nan­cial plan­ning or­ga­ni­za­tion, I do be­lieve that you would be well- ad­vised to seek out a fi­nan­cial plan­ner with cre­den­tials, such as those con­ferred by the Cer­ti­fied Fi­nan­cial Plan­ner Board of Stan­dards ( a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that seeks to fos­ter pro­fes­sional stan­dards in per­sonal fi­nan­cial plan­ning).

As­sum­ing that you agree with me, you’d start with a visit to the cre­den­tial­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion. Again, tak­ing the CFP as an ex­am­ple, you would go to “Find a CFP Pro­fes­sional” at https:// tinyurl. com/ y6v6kg48.

If you en­ter your city and state, you’ll get a long list of lo­cal CFPs, show­ing their names, firms, ad­dresses, phone num­bers and spe­cial­ties.

You also will find com­pen­sa­tion method (“Com­mis­sion and Fee,” “Com­mis­sion Only” and “Fee Only”), and you will see min­i­mum in­vestable as­sets ($ 0 to $ 99,000, $ 100,000 to $ 249,000, and so on, with a high­est bracket of $ 5 mil­lion- plus). You can do a more ad­vanced search that tar­gets your needs bet­ter.

For ex­am­ple, J. M., may want to fo­cus on San Jose, with pay­ment to be “Fee Only” and in­vestable as­sets of un­der $ 99,000 ( I’m mak­ing up this num­ber).

As to spe­cial­iza­tion, there are 47 choices listed to choose from. “Gen­eral Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning” might be a good choice for J. M. Other ex­am­ples in­clude “Com­pre­hen­sive Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning,” “Bud­get De­vel­op­ment,” “As­set Al­lo­ca­tion,” “Char­i­ta­ble Giv­ing,” “Long Term Care,” “Tax Prepa­ra­tion,” “So­cially Re­spon­si­ble In­vest­ments” and “So­cial Se­cu­rity Plan­ning.”

This type of search will help with find­ing a good fit. As FINRA points out: “You’ll want to make sure you fully un­der­stand which ar­eas of your fi­nan­cial life a par­tic­u­lar plan­ner can — and can­not — help with be­fore you hire that per­son.” FINRA is the Fi­nan­cial In­dus­try Reg­u­la­tory Author­ity.

Your search will give you a list of peo­ple to re­view and pos­si­bly in­ter­view.

I asked CFP Board Am­bas­sador and CBS News busi­ness an­a­lyst Jill Schlesinger to give me her per­spec­tive.

( CFP Board Am­bas­sadors are cer­ti­fied fi­nan­cial plan­ner pro­fes­sion­als “cho­sen af­ter com­plet­ing a rig­or­ous ap­pli­ca­tion process and based on their demon­strated lead­er­ship skills, pas­sion for the fi­nan­cial plan­ning pro­fes­sion and com­mit­ment to the CFP Board’s mis­sion to serve the pub­lic.”)

“With a CFP, you’re go­ing to some­one who is go­ing to go through a thor­ough ex­am­i­na­tion of the key is­sues in your fi­nan­cial life,” said Schlesinger. “CFPs are trained to take a holis­tic ap­proach in look­ing at your fi­nan­cial life. Most CFPs will do that. How­ever, each in­di­vid­ual pro­fes­sional charges in a dif­fer­ent way. It’s im­por­tant to ask, ‘ How am I go­ing to pay for your ser­vices?’”

J. M. will find some can­di­dates to in­ter­view by do­ing a search. When she talks with them, she will likely probe to un­cover these ad­di­tional el­e­ments that J. M. feels are es­sen­tial:

“Even if they are tech­ni­cally sales­peo­ple, the type of plan­ner we are look­ing for would be some­one who loves their job, loves peo­ple, loves help­ing and ed­u­cat­ing, and oh, by the way, is mak­ing pretty good money do­ing it ver­sus sell, sell, sell. We can feel that a mile away, even on phone con­ver­sa­tions,” said J. M.

I’m sure you’ll agree that pas­sion for help­ing peo­ple achieve their fi­nan­cial goals is para­mount.

We’ll talk more about fi­nan­cial plan­ners in fu­ture columns. If you have any thoughts or ex­pe­ri­ences, please share them with me ( read­ers@julie­ja­ When you write to me, please in­clude your city and state.

Julie Ja­son, JD, LLM, a per­sonal money man­ager ( Jack­son, Grant of Stam­ford) and au­thor, wel­comes your ques­tions/ com­ments ( read­ers@julie­ja­ Her awards in­clude the 2018 Clar­ion Award, sym­bol­iz­ing ex­cel­lence in clear, con­cise com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Her lat­est book, a cu­rated col­lec­tion of Julie’s columns, is “Re­tire Se­curely: In­sights on Money Man­age­ment From an Award- Win­ning Fi­nan­cial Colum­nist.” To hear Julie speak, visit www.julie­ja­ events.

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