It's not a CPF or a CFA or even a CPA that you want helping you in the financial planning process. It's a Certified Financial Planner™ professional who can help you with a proper financial review.
Whether you want to figure your ideal financial allocation, comprehend your 401k, or simply understand what is investment all about, work with someone who the CFP Board has recognized as an expert.
Whether investment news has depressed you, your investment income has dropped, or your CPA has advised you to begin the financial planning process, you need to consider who is most qualified to give your practical advice. You need an operational plan for dealing with all types of investment, insurance, budgeting, and estate planning issues. No one is more qualified for this kind of financial review than a Certified Financial Planner™ whose credentials come from the CFP board.
3 Big Mistakes People Make in Financial Planning
- I need a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst to handle my money.) Though the CFA designation demonstrates that the CFA-designee has passed a number of difficult tests covering such areas as accounting, economics, and security analysis, it does not mean that he or she knows about personal financial planning. The financial planning process starts with an overview of your situation, and then drills down into the details only after the financial review is complete. You might find a Chartered Financial Analyst working for a mutual fund or a research firm, but you would not turn to the CFA to create your financial plan (which is really a personal business strategy if you look at your personal finance as a business).
- I can handle investment risk in my portfolio. The mistake that people make when they feel that they can take on a lot of investment risk is that they confuse investment risk for volatility. Any financial asset that you choose may go up and down in value. That’s volatility. But the real investment risk that you must consider in your financial review is that you will run out of money during your lifetime. The financial planning process focuses less on market risk and more on goals like your retirement, lowering your marriage debt, paying for your kids’ college, and more. Though CFPs® can help with the investment details like understanding different types of bonds, choosing between stocks and bonds, and calculating your investment income, they can do much more. Along your wealth building path, they can help you figure out how to:
- divide up your money in different types of programs (often called a financial allocation or asset allocation),
- manage your budget,
- choose the right insurance,
- handle sensitive issues like prenup agreements, disabled family members, divorce, etc.,
- create an estate plan,
- manage your tax situation, and more.
Take a look at this 31 second video that explains how to bring all your finances together with the help of the one person who can. Then keep reading below for the third mistake that people make.
3. It’s too hard to get all the information together. Don’t get intimidated by the financial planning process. To get started, put on your intelligent finance hat and focus on your financial situation for an hour. During that hour, gather together as much information as you can which you will bring to your financial review meeting with your CFP® practitioner. The CFP Board put together a great online questionnaire that you can use for free. It’s online, but they don’t store or save the data to protect your privacy. Start here and now: http://www.cfp.net/learn/pdo.asp. Once you complete it, print up a copy of the results and bring it to your financial strategies meeting. It pays to write any questions that you think of on a piece of paper and bring them to the meeting, too. Tell the CFP® your financial situation and your list of queries… and don’t be shy. Ask anything. For starters, here are 10 things to ask your financial planner:
- How much should I save?
- How to start saving money.
- How can I solve a specific financial problem?
- What will the financial planning report include?
- Can you advise me on my 401k?
- Will you explain investment risk to me?
- Can you review my prenup agreement?
- What sort of investment return can I expect?
- Will you guide me on how to save money for a house?
- What sort of retirement savings plan do you recommend?
If you’ve read this far, you must be ready to start the financial planning process. Find a local Certified Financial Planner™ using the free search function on the CFP Board’s site: http://www.cfp.net/.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for investment advice that takes into account each individual’s special position and needs. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.