5 questions you should ask your Financial Planner
One of the biggest obstacles people face that stops them from engaging the professional services of a financial planner is not knowing the type of questions to ask. Getting over this initial hurdle is critical as it determines the financial planning experience you will receive and the overall success of your financial plan.
Here are 5 questions you should ask your financial planner
1. What is your financial planning process?
All Financial Planners need to follow strict regulatory guidelines that are meant to provide a high level of financial planning standards. Financial planners should be able to provide you with a clear road map of their financial panning process, from beginning to end. This should include the following steps:
An initial discovery meeting meant to establish your financial planning goals and determine if your financial planner is able to deliver valuable recommendations to achieve your goals
Finalizing and signing a financial planning agreement that describes the areas of financial planning that will be examined along with the financial planner’s compensation
The data collection stage that is needed to develop your financial plan
The plan development stage that should be confirmed along the way by you in order to ensure that everything is on track
The plan presentation that includes actionable recommendations to advance your financial planning goals
The execution of the recommendations and the review frequency of your financial plan
2. Can you provide a sample financial planning report?
If your financial planner is able to provide you with a sample plan, then you should be looking for a structure that meets your financial planning needs and is easy to understand. If something is unclear or does not match what you are looking for then ask clarifying questions in order to determine if the plan can be adapted to meet your needs.
3. What degree of financial planning experience do you have?
You will get a good understanding of your financial planner’s experience during your initial meeting and more specifically when they define their financial planning process. For example, if your financial planner specializes in basic retirement planning but your financial planning needs are more complex, such as business and tax succession planning, then everyone would be better served if you connected with a financial planner that is better able to provide you with viable recommendations for your goals.
4. How frequently should a financial plan be updated?
Generally financial plans are reviewed every 1-3 years, but it really depends on evolving goals and important life event changes such as:
Getting married or divorced
The addition of children/dependants or the death of a family member
Loss of a job or a job promotion
An inheritance or lottery win
An illness with a family member
5. What will your financial plan cost?
To be absolutely clear, financial plans are not free. You are paying for the financial planning advice in some form that should be spelled out in the financial planning agreement signed by all the parties. The cost can be paid from the revenue generated from the investment assets that are being managed by the financial planner, or the fee can be a fixed dollar amount, or an hourly rate. Either way, make sure you get value for your money.
When consulting a financial planner that you wish to work with you are encouraged to ask a lot of questions. Remember to be organized and prepared with what you want to get out of your financial planning experience. In addition take your time as it involves the well being of your financial future.