Financial Planning

Financial planners: Not just for millionaires anymore

Got a headache? See your doctor.

A toothache? See your dentist.

A money problem? Well, that’s when you might want to make the acquaintance of a good financial planner.

Maybe you’ve come into a large inheritance or your own income popped suddenly. Maybe you gave birth to triplets or recently divorced. Maybe you just bought or sold a business. Or maybe you just feel uneasy about your money — you’re not sure where it’s going now or how far it will take you in the future.

Whatever your money problem — too much or too little — a financial planner can probably help.

Many people don’t realize that hiring a financial planner can be a good investment. If you find yourself letting important financial decisions go because you just don’t seem to get around to them, you might want to talk to a financial planner to get those jobs done.

Do you need help?

  If you ask yourself the question, then you probably do. Everybody can benefit from using a financial planner simply by getting all of your ducks in a row.

What can you do for me?

There are no guarantees that a planner will, say, double your money. Should a planner offer you such promises, head for the door immediately.

What they can and should offer to do for you is:

  • Assess your current financial situation by reviewing your last two tax returns, all income sources, liquid and illiquid assets, wills, insurance policies, and estate and retirement planning documents;
  • Identify your financial needs and goals;
  • Develop a financial plan;
  • Explain the pros and cons of various options and financial instruments (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs, etc.);
  • Advise you in identifying other professionals (investment brokers, lawyers, accountants) to execute your plan; and
  • Review your progress periodically to make sure your plan remains on track.

Advice and education is what makes the right financial adviser worth the investment. Neither your banker nor your accountant has the broad training necessary for sound cradle-to-grave financial planning.

Getting an understanding and education as far as inflows and outflows, assets and liabilities and what the future holds, that’s a great investment. Yes, it is a lot of money. But if you amortize that over the benefit you’re going to receive through financial planning, it’s really a drop in the bucket.

Doing your financial homework is crucial to getting the most from your planner. But the basic steps are pretty simple: figure out what your goals are, what you need to achieve them, and just get started.