Choosing a financial planner is a very important decision. Who will you trust to handle your life savings and plan your financial future? The fact that someone claims to be a financial planner does not qualify him or her to handle your money. They must have the proper certification, experience and knowledge.
The Four Cs of choosing a financial planner
What certifications, college /university degrees and experience does he/she have?
How many clients or how much money does he/she handle?
Make sure the planner is registered with the Investment Dealers Association in your area or Certified by a Government body
How are you compensated? Flat fees, salary or commission? (Beware of those who earn big commissions for placing you in high risk funds)
Are there any hidden underwriting fees with my investment fund?
Will you explain all the cost involved with each investment?
What is the cost of liquidating or canceling my account with your firm? (Good to know, if you decide to switch funds or investment companies)
What is your investment philosophy?
Do you focus on domestic markets, foreign market or both? (Answer should be both)
What is your specialty? Your strongest area? (Global portfolio management, no load mutual funds, stocks, bonds etc)
How do you view risk and how does your philosophy fit my risk tolerance?
4. Customer service
What services does your firm offer?
How accessible will you (the agent) be?
Will you review the funds last 5 to 10year performance in the prospectus?
What has been your year-to-year investment performance?
What was you worst year? Best year? And why? (Look for defensiveness or humility after raising this question, it reveals personality type)
Do you offer financial planning, money management or both?
In conclusion, a financial planner works for you, and should be compatible with your personality, risk tolerance and financial goals. Make sure that your hard earn money is in good hands. Interview potential planners, ask for references and call at least 3 of those references.
Richmond Acheampong is the editor and founder of Parent Tree online family Resource. A web site promoting family health and balance with useful articles, products, advice columns and resourceful links.