Working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) is usually seen as a privilege only the very rich can afford. Having enough money that you need guidance on what to do with it seems like a great problem to have.
The truth is, a CFP® does not work solely with the richest subset of Americans. In fact, a CFP® works with clients on problems that nearly everyone can relate to – taxes, saving for retirement, and planning for a child’s college education. What Does a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Do?
Still, there are plenty of financial advisors out there and working with a CFP® can be expensive. Are the costs worth it? Or can financial guidance be found elsewhere for cheaper?
It’s a decision everyone will need to make for themselves, but CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ can provide unique and targeted insights toward clients. Plus, there’s the whole fiduciary matter. Here are a few reasons to consider a CFP®.
Fiduciary vs Non-Fiduciary Advisors
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ are fiduciaries, meaning they’re held to a specific ethical standard when it comes to advising their clients. The CFP® designation is awarded through the Board of Certified Financial Planners, which is a non-profit that provides study materials, job placement help, and a directory of registered CERTIFIED FINANCIAL ADVISORS™.
A fiduciary is a financial advisor who must give advice and recommendations that are in the best interests of their client. This might sound obvious, but not all financial advisors are bound by this fiduciary code. Now, that doesn’t mean a non-fiduciary advisor can put client funds into penny stocks or unregistered cryptocurrency exchanges.
Non-fiduciaries are held to something called the ‘suitability’ standard, which means the investments and recommendations must be suitable for the client’s risk tolerance and needs.
Which would you rather have, suitable investments or the best possible investments? That’s the difference between a fiduciary and non-fiduciary. A suitable investment could be a fund or insurance plan that the non-fiduciary receives a hefty commission on. It fits into the client’s long-term plan, but there’s a bit of quid pro quo going on.
A fiduciary will recommend only investments or decisions that work in the best interest of the client. This doesn’t mean guaranteed returns, but you’ll know you’re getting the lowest fees on products that fit your financial goals.
Areas of Expertise
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ have a well-developed background in a number of important money and finance topics. The process toward becoming a CFP® is no weekend retreat seminar. Candidates need multiple years of work experience and a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university.
And then there’s the exam – a six- hour, 170 question test that must be completed before the CFP® title can be awarded.
The CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) client base tends to be individuals and families looking for financial advice in the areas everyday people worry about. Businesses and other non-person entities like charities, universities, and nonprofits employ advisors like Chartered Financial Analysts (CFAs) who specialize in portfolio construction and business analysis. CFP® clients are often looking for assistance in the following areas:
● Tax Planning – Taxes are one of the biggest financial headaches we encounter. Everyone has to deal with taxes and every law-abiding citizen wants to pay as much as they owe, but no more. Tax planning is different from tax preparation, which is the process of filing an annual income tax return.
Tax planning is a year-round process where advisors work with clients to reduce their tax burden. Tax evasion is illegal, but tax planning can be a major money saver.
● Investment – People invest for different reasons: to grow their wealth, maintain a stable income, or simply to keep ahead of inflation. An advisor like a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) can help clients figure out their risk tolerance and get them into investments that best suit their long-term goals.
● Retirement Planning – Saving for retirement is one of the biggest concerns facing most Americans. Building a nest egg is important, but so is carefully managing its depletion during the golden years of life. Running out of money in retirement is a nightmare. A CFP® can make sure that doesn’t happen.
● College or Education Planning – College saving vehicles like Coverdell ESAs and 529 Plans allow parents tax-advantaged ways to pay for education, but they might not make sense for everyone. Will assets in a 529 cancel out potential student aid at your child’s college of choice? These are situations where a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) can provide the best guidance.
● Estate Planning – No one likes to think about death, but estate planning is a crucial part of any financial plan. Everyone should have a will, but there are other aspects of estate planning that could make sense depending on your health and wealth. Should you put assets in a trust? Who should you delegate as power of attorney? Tough questions are made easier when a trusted advisor can assist you.
● Insurance – Another topic no one likes discussing, but everyone needs to understand. How much life insurance is necessary? Does it make sense to get long-term care insurance for an aging parent? Making insurance decisions is tough and they often must be made during times of high stress. Getting assistance with these decisions can be not only a money saver, but a time and energy saver too.
A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) Can Provide You Peace of Mind
Are CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ (CFP®) worth the cost? If you have a complex financial situation, a CFP® is a must. Having a fiduciary guiding your decision-making guarantees you peace of mind. Trust is important when it comes to money and working with an advisor you can rely on will put your mind at ease.
As with any financial plan, there’s no guarantee that you’ll beat the market working with a CFP®. You won’t avoid market crashes or economic downturns, but you will guarantee that the best possible options will be delivered to you. CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ charge a fee, but that fee may seem nominal once you have a carefully crafted personal financial plan. Making decisions on your own can be costly as well – consider working with an experienced advisor when dealing with complex financial issues.
Certified Financial Planners® at Advanced Retirement Strategies
Working with a Certified Financial Planner® is an excellent investment of your time and money. With the high standards for CFP certification, you’ll know you’re getting the expertise and knowledge of a highly-trained and educated professional who will always act in your best interests and with the loftiest ethical standards.
The team of retirement planners and investment advisors at Advanced Retirement Strategies in Bountiful, Utah includes two Certified Financial Planners® who specialize in helping diligent savers with $250,000 or more of investment and retirement assets (not counting your primary residence) prepare for and then transition into retirement.
If you’re looking for a CFP® to help you live the retirement you have dreamed of, contact us today.