If you are bewildered by the vast array of financial products available on the market today, it may be time for you to seek the help of an experienced financial advisor. A good financial advisor will be able to help you clarify your current financial situation, your short, medium, and long term goals, and work out a plan for your financial objectives. But how can you make sure that you find a financial advisor that will present you with sound advice that will help you on your way to a stable and secure financial future?
Check the Financial Services Register
Legitimate financial advisors will be found in the Financial Services Register. You should also ask any prospective financial planner whether or not they are a member of any professional organisation. If they are, check with that organisation to obtain a copy of their code of conduct.
Check Their Qualifications
Obviously, if you’re going to entrust your financial future to somebody who professes to be an expert in finance, you’ll want to make sure that they are actually qualified to help you. The Retail Distribution Review legislation has required that all financial planners meet minimum qualifications. However, you should still understand the level of expertise your financial planner has acquired.
Certificate in Financial Planning – if an advisor designates CertPFS or CeFA after their name, they have a Certificate in Financial Planning, which doesn’t meet the minimum qualifications required by the Retail Distribution Review legislation.
Diploma for Financial Advisors – If an advisor designates DipFa after their name, they have successfully obtained a Diploma for Financial Advisors. This is now the minimum required level of education as per the RDR legislation.
Chartered Financial Planner – This is considered the gold standard in financial planning. An advisor holding the designation has spent years studying to pass a series of exams on finance and related subject areas. They also have to have five years of relevant professional experience and be members of the Personal Finance Society, the professional organisation for financial planners.
Certified Financial Planner – An advisor that designates CFP after their name is a Certified Financial Planner. Certified Financial Planners must pass an exam and 70-hour case study.
Meeting With Potential Financial Planners
Now that you’ve made sure that your potential financial planners have the qualifications you’re looking for, it’s time to set up your meetings. Before going into your meetings keep in mind the criteria upon which you’ll be evaluating your potential financial advisor.
Are They a Good Fit for Your Current Needs?
Do you need help with your pensions, tax planning, or investments? Make sure you pick an advisor that specialises in the area in which you need the most help. If you are looking for a general overhaul of your finances, then a certified financial planner or chartered financial planner will likely be the best choice for you.
Do You Feel Comfortable With Them?
You’re financial advisor is going to be an important partner in your life. It’s important that you get along with them, feel comfortable asking them questions, and are confident that they will take the time to go over the reasons for their suggestions until you have a firm grasp on their overall strategy for your finances.
Making Your Final Decision
Take a break before finalising your selection of a financial advisor. Also, make sure you get recommendations from each financial advisor in writing. Take the recommendations home and study them to see if you can unearth any additional questions that you didn’t think of during your meetings. Once you clarify any further questions with the advisors you should be fully prepared to decide on a financial advisor that is a good match for you and your financial goals.