Why You need a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) Professional
The Certified Financial Planner™ professional is a member of a distinguished profession dedicated to serving the financial needs of individuals, families and businesses. Not every person who is described as a financial planner is a CFP® licensee. Most Certified Financial Planner™ professionals have earned a four year college degree in areas such as accounting, economics, business administration, marketing or finance.
Additionally, they have completed a course of study in financial planning at one of the colleges or universities that has registered its educational program with the CFP® Board. Successful completion of one of these registered programs automatically satisfies the education component of the CFP® certification process. In order to be licensed to use the Certified Financial Planner™ mark, an individual must meet what the CFP® Board refers to as the four Es. Examination, Experience, Ethics, and Education as described in What is a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) licensee article.
What should I look for in a Financial Planner?
Specifically, you should look for a CFP® practitioner whose manner, style, area of expertise and technical knowledge is right for you. You should choose a planner who puts your interests first and also offers a thorough explanation - or "full disclosure" - of how he or she will be compensated.
Are you a Certified Financial Planner™ licensee? If not, which other professional qualifications do you hold that qualify you to talk to me?
How exactly are you compensated? Fee Only - Commission Only - Fee-Offset - Combination Fee/Commission
Do you have a written Disclosure Statement? (If No, it might be a good idea to look elsewhere.) Serious consideration should be given before handing over money to anybody who does not disclose in writing their licenses and qualifications so that you have the opportunity to confirm any representations made.
Are you a Registered Investment Advisor? (Financial Planners who take assets under management are required to register with either the State or the SEC as Registered Investment Advisors. If this is the case he or she is required to give you a written disclosure.)
Are you licensed with the Dept. of Insurance? If so, which companies do you represent?
Are you licensed with the NASD to sell the securities and/or investments you will recommend? If so, what is the address and telephone number of your Broker Dealer?
How do you prepare my plan? How extensive is it?
Are you regulated by any federal, state or self regulatory bodies and if so, which ones? NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers) - SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) - CFP® Board, Inc. - CLU/ChFC Society - Dept of Insurance - Other
Are YOU going to provide me with all services, or will I also be dealing with anybody else, and if so, how qualified are they?
Would you be prepared to work on a flat fee basis, or offset your fees for service against any commissions earned?
After the initial plan is implemented, do you provide ongoing services including regular revisions and if so, what is the cost?
Finally, add to this list any questions you want to ask to increase your personal comfort level with any planner. PLEASE, don't forget that serious, qualified individuals are busy people whose only asset to put food on the table for their family is their knowledge, skills and the personal service they provide for a fee (or commission) to their clients. So by all means INTERVIEW, but then move forward, DECIDE, and finally, EXPECT TO PAY FOR GOOD ADVICE!
The CFP® Professional as a Team Leader?The CFP® designee will often consult and coordinate activities with a client's other advisors, such as attorneys, accountants, trust officers, and investment or insurance specialists. A CFP® professional can be viewed as the coordinator, organizing the expertise of other advisors for the benefit of the client.